Mar. 14—The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday reported 170 cases of the novel coronavirus and no additional deaths as Mainers looked forward to vaccine immunity while marking a year since the pandemic shut down the state.
Schools suddenly closed, with water bottles and homework assignments left on desks. Sports seasons were canceled. Film sets came to a screeching halt. A year ago on Friday, everything started to close down as the first case of COVID-19 was detected in Maine. For this grim anniversary, Mainers spoke to the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram about their experiences in the days the world suddenly changed.
Maine's cumulative COVID-19 cases rose to 47,025 on Sunday. Of those, 36,546 have been confirmed by testing and 10,479 are considered probable cases of COVID-19. The seven-day average of new daily cases was 178.1.
Seven hundred twenty-four people have died with COVID-19 since the pandemic began in Maine.
Some people's passions have been put entirely on hold — a college basketball coach mourned "the opportunity that was stolen from those girls" on her pandemic-year team — but others have been forced to adapt and keep going. Teachers kept teaching and social workers kept helping others.
For many older Mainers, the past year has been one of extreme isolation. The virus is deadliest for people of advanced age, making the best prescription to stay indoors, away from grandchildren and social clubs that gave color to life.
Noella Rocheleau, born on Christmas Day in 1929, never met three of her four older brothers; they died in the flu pandemic of 1918. Last year, when the coronavirus hit, she was living at 75 State Street, an independent and assisted-living facility in Portland. She's spent the past year in her third-floor apartment, in near-total isolation.
"Sometimes that's hard to swallow, but they have 150 people here, so they have to take care of us," she said. "We can't all do what we want to do. You're like family. If someone is ill, you don't yell or shout or sing that day."
Meanwhile, Mainers are looking forward to expanded access to COVID-19 vaccines. Following federal guidance, the state will expand eligibility to all adults starting May 1.
Maine is now vaccinating people 60 and older, as well as teachers and educational staff, but the Biden administration last week directed states to open the doors even wider as it promised to dramatically increase supplies of vaccine.
Before the White House's directive, Maine was planning to offer shots to people age 40 and older starting May 1.
As of Sunday morning, Maine had given 320,885 people their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 187,495 had been fully vaccinated. Out of Maine's population of 1.34 million, 23.87 percent have now received the first dose, according to Maine CDC statistics.
County by county as of Sunday, there had been 4,981 coronavirus cases in Androscoggin, 1,314 in Aroostook, 13,212 in Cumberland, 937 in Franklin, 959 in Hancock, 3,905 in Kennebec, 697 in Knox, 607 in Lincoln, 2,324 in Oxford, 4,199 in Penobscot, 356 in Piscataquis, 911 in Sagadahoc, 1,294 in Somerset, 636 in Waldo, 737 in Washington and 9,956 in York.
By age, 15.6 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, 15.3 percent were in their 50s, 11.6 percent were in their 60s, 6.4 percent were in their 70s, and 5.4 percent were 80 or older.
Of the 78 patients with COVID-19 in Maine hospitals on Sunday, 23 were in intensive care and nine were on ventilators. The state had 108 intensive care unit beds available of a total 389, and 243 ventilators available of 319. There were also 446 alternative ventilators.
Around the world on Sunday evening, there were 119.7 million known cases of COVID-19 and 2.65 million deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. The United States had 29.4 million cases and 534,810 deaths.