Hospitalizations inch up amid steady COVID-19 surge in Maine

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Sep. 18—The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday reported another 587 cases of COVID-19 and one additional death, adding to an already heavy load on Maine hospitals, which are near their highest number of coronavirus patients since the beginning of the pandemic.

Hospitals around the state on Saturday had 204 patients with COVID-19, an increase from Friday's 201 and closer to the peak of 207 recorded in January. Seventy-seven of Saturday's patients were in intensive care and 33 were breathing with assistance from ventilators. On Friday, the number of ICU patients, 34, was the most since the pandemic began — "a dispiriting record that none of us wants to set," Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine CDC, said on Twitter.

Maine's cumulative COVID-19 cases rose to 83,909 on Saturday. Of those, 60,042 have been confirmed by testing and 23,867 are considered probable cases of COVID-19. The new data raised the seven-day average for new cases to 485.6 and the 14-day average to 417.

Nine hundred eighty-two people have died with COVID-19 in Maine since the pandemic began. Information about the person reported Saturday to have died wasn't available from the Maine CDC.

By Saturday morning, Maine had given 869,234 people the final dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Among people 12 and older, the population currently eligible for vaccination, 73.40 percent are now fully vaccinated.

Most of the current COVID-19 hospital patients are unvaccinated — between 70 and 75 percent, hospital administrators say. The proportion of unvaccinated people in the ICU is even higher.

The high case counts have overwhelmed Maine CDC staff, forcing them to report cases as fast as they can confirm them. As a result, some daily counts include cases identified on previous days.

Schools have not been immune from the viral surge. As of Thursday, 1,390 cases were active in Maine schools, comprising 52 separate outbreaks, according to a new online dashboard from the Maine Department of Education.

Maine as of Friday had recorded 2,449 "breakthrough" cases, which occur when a fully vaccinated person contracts COVID-19. Unvaccinated people still are the vast majority of cases, and are also much likelier to have more serious cases if they do catch the disease. By comparison, there have been 48,110 total cases since COVID-19 vaccines became available to Mainers.

All Maine counties except for Sagadahoc were in the Maine CDC's "high" range of COVID-19 transmission as of Saturday. The public health agency recommends indoor mask-wearing for all people in areas with "substantial" transmission or higher.

County by county as of Saturday, there had been 9,286 coronavirus cases in Androscoggin, 2,941 in Aroostook, 19,448 in Cumberland, 1,719 in Franklin, 1,934 in Hancock, 7,855 in Kennebec, 1,488 in Knox, 1,409 in Lincoln, 4,116 in Oxford, 9,248 in Penobscot, 929 in Piscataquis, 1,649 in Sagadahoc, 3,105 in Somerset, 1,897 in Waldo, 1,229 in Washington and 15,630 in York.

By age, 20 percent of patients were under 20, while 18.2 percent were in their 20s, 15.3 percent were in their 30s, 13.2 percent were in their 40s, 14 percent were in their 50s, 10 percent were in their 60s, 5.3 percent were in their 70s, and 4.1 percent were 80 or older.

Around the world late Saturday afternoon, there were 227.9 million known cases of COVID-19 and 4.68 million deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. The United States had 42 million cases and 673,270 deaths.

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