Maine CDC again reports more than 200 daily cases of COVID-19

Rob Wolfe, Portland Press Herald, Maine
·3 min read

Mar. 20—The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday reported 220 new cases of the coronavirus and no additional deaths, ending a week when state officials pushed forward their vaccine timetable to include all adults starting April 19.

State officials on Friday also announced that people 50 and older may receive doses starting Tuesday, anticipating increased federal shipments of COVID-19 vaccines. Previously, the schedule had called for people in their 50s to become eligible on April 1.

Maine's cumulative COVID-19 cases rose to 48,292 on Saturday. Of those, 37,310 have been confirmed by testing and 10,982 are considered probable cases of COVID-19. The seven-day average of new daily cases rose to 205.1 on Saturday.

Seven hundred twenty-eight people have died with COVID-19 since the pandemic began in Maine.

The Biden administration has announced plans to deliver enough doses to make all Americans eligible by May 1, leading Maine and other states to accelerate their schedules.

"Maine has been working around the clock to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible," Gov. Janet Mills said in a statement Friday. "As we continue to make progress, and with more appointments becoming available and an increase in supply expected in the coming weeks, we believe it is appropriate to accelerate our timeline and make more people eligible earlier."

Mills warned Mainers that appointments might not immediately be available to everyone newly eligible, as the system expands to take on more capacity.

Maine health officials and vaccine providers have also reported a worrying trend of vaccine appointments going unfilled after the state expanded eligibility to people in their 60s earlier this month. Still, the state had already given the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to more than a quarter of its residents by Saturday morning.

As of Saturday, 359,548 Mainers had received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 215,408 had received their final dose. Out of Maine's population of 1.3 million, 26.75 percent have received their first dose, according to Maine CDC statistics.

Early booking numbers for hotels, restaurants, campgrounds and other venues across Maine are soaring, indicating the state may have a tourism season on par with 2019, a historically strong year.

Tourist visits to Maine fell by 27 percent last year, for a total of about 10 million fewer visits than 2019. Direct tourism spending fell from $6.5 billion to $4.8 billion, according to the Maine Office of Tourism.

But this year Mills has announced that visitors from all New England states are exempt from testing or quarantine restrictions. That exemption will expand to the rest of the country by May 1, with the exception of any states that public health officials deem too risky for COVID-19 spread.

County by county as of Saturday, there had been 5,090 coronavirus cases in Androscoggin, 1,348 in Aroostook, 13,495 in Cumberland, 958 in Franklin, 989 in Hancock, 4,073 in Kennebec, 758 in Knox, 628 in Lincoln, 2,387 in Oxford, 4,337 in Penobscot, 373 in Piscataquis, 937 in Sagadahoc, 1,315 in Somerset, 673 in Waldo, 750 in Washington and 10,181 in York.

By age, 15.9 percent of patients were under 20, while 18.1 percent were in their 20s, 14.4 percent were in their 30s, 13.2 percent were in their 40s, 15.2 percent were in their 50s, 11.6 percent were in their 60s, 6.3 percent were in their 70s, and 5.3 percent were 80 or older.

Of the 80 patients with COVID-19 in Maine hospitals on Saturday, 20 were in intensive care and 10 were on ventilators. The state had 99 intensive care unit beds available of a total 390, and 250 ventilators available of 319. There were also 446 alternative ventilators.

Around the world on Saturday afternoon, there were 122.5 million known cases of COVID-19 and over 2.7 million deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. The United States had 29.7 million cases and 541,513 deaths.