Maine CDC: 417 new cases of COVID-19 reported, no additional deaths

Eric Russell, Portland Press Herald, Maine
·4 min read

May 4—Maine reported 417 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, the second time in four days cases have risen above 400.

No additional deaths were reported.

The state's vaccination rate, meanwhile, is nearing the 40-percent threshold.

Prior to Tuesday, new daily cases had dropped below 300 in seven of the last nine days. The seven-day daily case average stands at 296, compared to 448 two weeks ago and 273 cases on average this time last month. Of the 417 new cases Tuesday 271, or 65 percent, were among individuals younger than 40.

Since the pandemic began, there have been 62,509 confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 and 790 deaths, according to data tracked by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Cases have been falling across the country, although there are still some areas where transmission is high. The seven-day daily case average in the United States is just over 50,000, according to the U.S. CDC. That's down from nearly 65,000 on average two weeks ago and nearly 250,000 at the peak in January. The average number of daily deaths is 703, down from 747 per day two weeks ago and from more than 3,000 in late January.

The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Maine remains high. As of Tuesday, there were 126 individuals in the hospital, including 56 in critical care and 24 on a ventilator. Hospitalizations had been running in the 60s and 70s per day for most of March and early April but have now been over 110 for 14 consecutive days.

Maine CDC director Dr. Nirav Shah is scheduled to provide an update Tuesday afternoon at 2 p.m.

As for vaccinations, the state has administered 641,392 first doses, accounting for 47.7 percent of the population, and 535,398 final doses, representing 39.8 percent of residents.

The national rate of vaccination is 31.8 percent, with Connecticut leading all states at 40.3 percent, with Maine close behind, according to a Bloomberg tracker. Mississippi and Alabama are last with just 23.8 percent of residents fully vaccinated.

Among Maine residents age 60 or older, who are at highest risk of serious illness or death, 79 percent are fully vaccinated, while just 20 percent of those between the ages of 16 and 39 are inoculated. Consequently, younger people have been driving new transmission. Since mid-January — the height of the pandemic in Maine — the share of total cases among those under the age of 40 has increased from 23 percent to more than 50 percent, according to CDC data.

Vaccinations also have slowed since peaking shortly after all Mainers over 16 became eligible on April 7. This week, Maine will receive 55,960 doses of COVID-19 vaccine through the state vaccination program, retail pharmacies such as Walgreens and Walmart, and doses sent directly to community health clinics.

As a way to make it easier for younger people to get their shots, vaccination sites are increasingly offering a walk-in option. Additionally, the state is working to bring more options to rural counties where vaccination rates lag, including shifting doses to primary care offices.

Knox and Cumberland counties have the highest rates of vaccination, at 45 percent each. Oxford, Androscoggin and Somerset counties have the lowest rate, at 33 percent each.

A mobile vaccination clinic run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency finished a four-day stop Monday in Fryeburg, in western Oxford County, and will set up shop from Wednesday through Friday at the Boofy Quimby Memorial Center in the Androscoggin County town of Turner.

The Fryeburg site averaged just under 150 per day from Friday through Monday, far fewer than the 550 doses per day administered while the mobile site was in Biddeford last week.

With the shift toward smaller, more versatile sites, at least one mass vaccination site is preparing to close. Northern Light Health, which has been operating a high-volume clinic at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor, announced Monday that it is transiting new vaccinations to its site on Union Street in Bangor by the end of this week. Those who received their first doses at the Cross Center will still go there for their second, but the site is expected to close on May 27.

This story will be updated.