Deaths of central and western Maine residents related to COVID-19 continue to decline

·3 min read

Jun. 10—The steady decline of new COVID-19 case rates continued Wednesday even as the number of Mainers getting their shots have lost momentum over the past month.

State health officials reported 53 new cases Wednesday, including three in Androscoggin County, two in Franklin County and five in Oxford County. There were three additional deaths across the state: one man and two women. The individuals were residents of Kennebec, Sagadahoc and York counties and ranged in age from their 60s to 80s.

There were no new deaths in the tri-county area. A new death related to COVID-19 has not been reported in Androscoggin County since this past weekend, when the county's 85th death was reported. The last time a death was reported in Oxford County was June 3, bringing the total number of deaths there to 66.

And in Franklin County, a new death from COVID-19 has not been reported since May 14. Fifteen residents of the county have died from COVID-19.

While all new cases are of concern, there is no one region that stands out from the rest of the state in terms of positivity rates, Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Nirav Shah said.

"Thankfully, the uptick in cases that (we've) talked about in and around Androscoggin County, that has muted and we're not seeing that sustained increase that we were three, four, five weeks ago," Shah said at a media briefing Wednesday.

"We've not seen those divergences where one county was out in front of others in terms of new cases lately. That's a very good sign and again, in part driven by widespread vaccination rates."

Less than 50% of residents in each of the three counties have received either their first of the two-shot Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, or received their final shots or the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Cumberland County leads the state in getting shots into arms: 66.4% of all residents have received at least one dose and 65.3% have received their final inoculations.

Across the state, about 54% of all Maine residents have received either their first or final shots.

When considering only those who are eligible to receive the vaccine, or those 12 years of age and older, the tri-county area's numbers improve, but still trail behind statewide numbers. Of eligible residents in Androscoggin County, 55.5% and 54.1% have gotten their first and final inoculations, respectively. In Franklin County, first and final shots are at 49.4% and 51.6%, respectively. And in Oxford County, those numbers are 52% and 51.5%, respectively.

Statewide, about 61% of residents 12 years and older have gotten either their first or final shots.

Health and Human Services Commissioner Dr. Jeanne Lambrew said Wednesday that approximately 40 organizations have requested a pop-up vaccination clinic. The Department of Health and Human Services announced last month the initiative where any community with at least 10 people who need to get vaccinated to request a clinic to come to them.

"We will continue to work until the very end of this pandemic on trying to get those who are interested in getting a vaccine a shot," Lambrew said.

Lambrew and Shah said that the organizations who have requested a pop-up clinic have been spread across the state and represent a variety of groups, from summer camps to houses of worship.

State officials continue to explore other types of incentives program, such as the "Your Shot to Get Outdoors" program that ran in May.

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