May 15—The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday reported 178 new cases of COVID-19 and three additional deaths, the first daily caseload under 200 since April 24 as Maine prepares to lift its mask mandate.
Starting May 24, those who are fully vaccinated can go without masks in indoor public settings, Gov. Janet Mills announced Friday. Maine's new mask rules followed revisions to federal guidance earlier in the week. Maine will also lift physical distancing requirements in indoor spaces where people remove masks to eat and drink, such as restaurants and bars.
Maine's cumulative COVID-19 cases rose to 65,523 on Saturday. Of those, 48,274 have been confirmed by testing and 17,249 are considered probable cases of COVID-19. The seven-day average of new daily cases was 253.3.
Eight hundred two people have died with COVID-19 in Maine since the pandemic began. The three people reported Saturday to have died were two residents of Cumberland County and one resident of Penobscot County. One was a woman, two were men, and all were age 80 or older, the Maine CDC said early Saturday evening. The agency said that one of the deaths was not reflected in its website update earlier in the day, but will be on Sunday.
Maine is still asking people who have not been vaccinated to wear masks. That includes children under 12, who aren't eligible for any of the vaccines in circulation.
Maine officials this past week encouraged people to continue wearing masks to set an example for those who can't yet receive a vaccine.
"For people who are not vaccinated, including children too young to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, wearing a mask remains one of the most effective ways of protecting yourself and your family against this highly contagious disease," Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew said in a statement. "We thank those who are fully vaccinated for doing their part to protect themselves and their communities, and ask them to consider wearing a mask in public places to give children the example they need to continue wearing one until a vaccine is available for them."
Meanwhile, in central Maine, hospital officials are seeing increased numbers of unvaccinated patients with serious cases of COVID-19. Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston had a record high number of COVID-19 inpatients for the week ending Thursday — an average of 20.4 each day.
Dr. John Alexander, chief medical officer of Central Maine Healthcare, asked Mainers in the region to get vaccinated.
"With increased travel and variants circulating in the community, we continue to see COVID patients who are much younger and much sicker than those we saw earlier," he said Thursday. "The vast majority are also unvaccinated."
People under 30 comprised 44 percent of Saturday's new cases, or 79 of the 178.
By Saturday morning, Maine had given 668,625 people the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 629,924 had received a final dose. Out of the state's population of 1.3 million, 49.74 percent had received a first dose.
Among people 12 and older, the population currently eligible for vaccination, 53.19 percent are now fully vaccinated.
County by county as of Saturday, there had been 7,929 coronavirus cases in Androscoggin, 1,785 in Aroostook, 16,808 in Cumberland, 1,300 in Franklin, 1,292 in Hancock, 6,174 in Kennebec, 1,097 in Knox, 997 in Lincoln, 3,471 in Oxford, 5,789 in Penobscot, 508 in Piscataquis, 1,390 in Sagadahoc, 2,080 in Somerset, 956 in Waldo, 855 in Washington and 13,092 in York.
By age, 18.4 percent of patients were under 20, while 18.3 percent were in their 20s, 15.1 percent were in their 30s, 13.5 percent were in their 40s, 14.7 percent were in their 50s, 10.4 percent were in their 60s, 5.4 percent were in their 70s, and 4.3 percent were 80 or older.
Maine's hospitals had 121 patients with COVID-19 on Saturday, of whom 45 were in intensive care and 20 were on ventilators. The state had 86 intensive care unit beds available of a total 377, and 236 ventilators available of 319. There were also 451 alternative ventilators.
Around the world early Saturday evening, there were 162 million known cases of COVID-19 and 3.36 million deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. The United States had 32.9 million cases and 585,664 deaths.