COVID-19 case counts still at elevated levels in Maine

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday reported 600 new cases of COVID-19 and five additional deaths as the infectious disease continued to exert its hold on the state.

The rate of new infections, hospitalizations and positive tests has been falling in recent weeks, though Friday still saw 467 new cases of the coronavirus – far above the lows that Maine reported earlier in the year. Experts this past week said that increasing resistance to the disease from vaccines and past infections could be a factor in the slight easing of case counts, though they cautioned that geographical pockets are still seeing strong levels of transmission.

Maine’s cumulative COVID-19 cases rose to 94,948 on Saturday. Of those, 67,658 have been confirmed by testing and 27,290 are considered probable cases of COVID-19.

Maine hospitals on Saturday had 156 patients with COVID-19, an increase of three from the day before. A total of 44 of Saturday’s patients were in intensive care and 23 were on ventilators. The state had 51 intensive care unit beds available of a total 330, and 207 ventilators available of 304.

One thousand seventy-five people have died with COVID-19 in Maine since the pandemic began.

The Cumberland County Jail remains locked down amid an outbreak of COVID-19. Inmates and their relatives are decrying the restrictive conditions, which include keeping inmates inside except for 20 minutes in the morning and evening. Jail officials have said publicly that inmates are being kept locked down for 23 hours a day.

At last count, seven staff members and 12 inmates had tested positive for the disease. A staffing shortage is contributing to problems at the jail; this year’s county budget calls for 129 staff members, and the jail currently has only 65. Inmates interviewed by the Press Herald this past week said there was increased tension between inmates and staff, and they said some corrections officers were acting less humanely toward their charges because of the pressure.

By Saturday morning, Maine had given 885,008 people the final dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Among people 12 and older, the population currently eligible for vaccination, 74.73 percent are now fully vaccinated.

Maine as of Oct. 1 had recorded 4,167 “breakthrough” cases, which occur when a fully vaccinated person contracts COVID-19. Unvaccinated people still account for the vast majority of cases, and are also much more likely to have more serious illness if they do catch the disease. By comparison, there have been 55,489 total cases since COVID-19 vaccines became available to Mainers.

The Maine CDC usually updates its breakthrough numbers weekly, but has been delayed lately because of a change in its reporting methods, according to the agency’s website.

County by county as of Saturday, there had been 10,099 coronavirus cases in Androscoggin, 3,521 in Aroostook, 20,859 in Cumberland, 1,995 in Franklin, 2,474 in Hancock, 9,055 in Kennebec, 1,739 in Knox, 1,666 in Lincoln, 4,648 in Oxford, 11,258 in Penobscot, 1,215 in Piscataquis, 1,840 in Sagadahoc, 3,814 in Somerset, 2,170 in Waldo, 1,602 in Washington and 16,991 in York.

By age, 20.6 percent of patients were under 20, while 17.9 percent were in their 20s, 15.4 percent were in their 30s, 13.2 percent were in their 40s, 13.7 percent were in their 50s, 9.9 percent were in their 60s, 5.4 percent were in their 70s, and 4 percent were 80 or older.

Around the world on Saturday afternoon, there were 237.4 million known cases of COVID-19 and 4.84 million deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. The United States had 44.3 million cases and 712,856 deaths.

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