Maine health officials reported 47 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and five additional deaths, continuing a recent upward trend in case counts that is playing out across the country.
After cases cratered in June and early July, Maine has started to see a jump in cases, although the increases here are lower than in many parts of the country, especially in states with low vaccination rates where the delta variant has taken hold.
“The increase in Maine is thankfully less than the weight of the increase in the rest of the country … and that’s no doubt a function of our very high vaccination rate,” Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said in an interview this week.
Shah said he and his team are closely watching the trends, as they have been throughout the pandemic, but it’s not likely that any restrictions will be reinstated anytime soon. Some areas, including Los Angeles County, have reinstated mask mandates in an effort to curb the latest surge.
In the two weeks since the Fourth of July holiday the seven-day case average in the U.S. has increased from about 13,000 to more than 37,000, according to the U.S. CDC. Over the same time, deaths from COVID-19 have ticked up as well, from an average of 160 to an average of 250 per day.
Hospitalizations are increasing as well, to about 24,000 nationally this week. Roughly 97 percent of the people hospitalized with COVID-19 have not been vaccinated, according to the CDC.
In Maine, hospitalizations have been stable for more than a month. As of Wednesday, there were 25 individuals hospitalized with COVID-19, including 14 in critical care and five on ventilators.
The seven-day daily case average increased to 51 on Wednesday, the highest it has been in more than a month. Since the pandemic began, Maine has recorded 69,674 cases of COVID-19 and 887 deaths.
Even with the recent increase, Maine’s seven-day average is the seventh-lowest in the nation, and much lower than states with poor vaccination rates that are experiencing a summer surge, including Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri and Florida. Public health experts say the surges are being fueled by the delta variant circulating among unvaccinated populations.
The five additional deaths on Wednesday were the result of the Maine CDC’s periodic review of death certificates, including two deaths in January, one in February and two in July, Shah said Wednesday.
On the vaccination front, 803,750 people in Maine have received their final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, representing 60 percent of the state’s 1.3 million population and 68 percent of the eligible population age 12 and older. Maine continues to have one of the best vaccination rates in the country, ranking behind only Vermont and Massachusetts.
However, the vaccination rate varies by county. Cumberland County has the highest rate, at 71 percent, while Somerset County, at 47 percent, is last.