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359 additional COVID-19 cases and 3 additional deaths reported in Maine Friday

Find developments on the Maine coronavirus, COVID-19 outbreak as we work together to separate facts from fear, Friday, January 29, 2021

MAINE, USA — KEY MAINE CORONAVIRUS FACTS

FRIDAY, JANUARY 29

The Maine CDC reported three additional deaths of people with COVID-19. The state death toll stands at 570 deaths.

Of the 38,813 total COVID-19 cases in Maine, 31,284 were confirmed by tests and 7,529 are probable.

12,379 Mainers have completed COVID-19 isolation.

Cumulatively across Maine, 137,531 vaccine doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered. Of those, 102,773 have been first doses and 34,758 have been second doses.

The Maine CDC's next state coronavirus update is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 2.

Credit: NCM

THURSDAY, JANUARY 28

The Maine CDC reported five additional deaths of people with COVID-19. The state death toll stands at 567 deaths.

Of the 38,454 total COVID-19 cases in Maine, 31,064 were confirmed by tests and 7,390 are probable.

12,337 Mainers have completed COVID-19 isolation.

171 people in Maine are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, 51 of whom are being treated in intensive care units and 31 of whom are on ventilators.

Cumulatively across Maine, 128,704 vaccine doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered. Of those, 97,033 have been first doses and 31,648 have been second doses. 

Mills ends early business closing requirement

Gov. Janet Mills on Thursday announced she will end the mandate that required businesses to close by 9 p.m., effective Feb. 1. The Mills administration says the decision comes as Maine's positivity rate and new COVID-19 cases per million are decreasing. 

Mills imposed the early closing mandate in November ahead of the holiday season in order to help reduce extended public gatherings while allowing businesses to remain open. The mandate was later extended past the holidays as cases and hospitalizations in the state continued to rise. 

But Mills says "We are beginning to round the corner on the post-holiday surge of COVID-19."

On Jan. 13, Maine set a single-day case record with 824 additional cases; on Thursday, the Maine CDC reported an additional 284 cases of COVID-19 and five additional deaths.

MORE: Mills ends early business closing requirement

New Maine CDC outbreak investigations

  • 23 cases at the Crossroads to Calvary Apostolic Church in Morrill
  • Five cases at Norway Health and Rehabilitation

Testing metrics in Maine

Maine's 7-day PCR positivity rate stands at 3.64 percent, which Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah said it consistent with an increase in testing across the state. Maine's testing volume for PCR tests now stands at 680 tests per every 100,000 people.

Maine's 7-day antigen testing positivity rate stands at 6.2 percent. The testing volume for antigen tests in Maine stands at 160 tests per every 100,000 people.

Maine gets 16% increase in COVID-19 vaccine doses for week 8 of distribution

The Maine CDC placed its order for first doses of the vaccine, enough for 20,375 people, to the U.S. CDC and Operation Warp Speed. Maine is set to receive a shipment of COVID-19 vaccine doses for the eighth week of distribution that the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) says is 16 percent higher than the current week's allotment. 

Maine DHHS says the increase is expected to remain the same for the next three weeks. 

"The increase in the coming weeks’ vaccine doses will allow Maine to expand the pace and breadth of vaccinating Maine residents age 70 and older who are at greatest risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19," DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew said in a release. "We can simultaneously support large community sites that are newly opening as well as smaller independent sites that will help vaccinate hard-to-reach residents."

MORE: Maine gets 16% increase in COVID-19 vaccine doses for week 8 of distribution

Shah addresses concerns about underserved communities in the state having access to vaccine

Shah recommended Mainers refer to the Maine CDC's COVID-19 dashboard, which has date including where people are being vaccinated, which categories they fall into, etc.

Shah said one of the early findings of the dashboard is that many people have declined to provide their racial or ethnic background, or it hasn't been reported to Maine CDC by those administering the vaccine. Shah said Maine CDC collects that information so that they can make sure they're reaching communities that have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, whether that's due to race or ethnicity, geography, or age.

"We can't know where we're going and whether we're getting there unless we know where we are. And having those data helps us get to know where we are so we can chart a course," Shah said. "That's what we do with those data and that's why it's important. The fact that right now we don't have perfect clarity into that is concerning. We're working with providers, as well as talking with Maine people directly, to let them know that when you go to get vaccinated, the reason when we ask your race or ethnicity is to help us make sure that others of that same racial or ethnic background can be vaccinated and we can make sure we're getting vaccine to them."

Maine DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew said this week DHHS is striving to reach out to older Mainers who may be racial minorities or live in rural areas, who may otherwise struggle to get to a vaccine clinic.

Lambrew said Maine DHHS plans to:

  •  Send a letter to 31,000 low income Mainers over the age of 70 to provide them with information about their eligibility
  • Send vaccines to Maine's federally qualified health centers
  • Work with Maine's local area agencies on aging, who work with home-bound seniors and other people who may struggle getting to vaccine clinics
  • Figure out where in the state the percentage of vaccinated Mainers is particularly low
Credit: NCM

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 27

The Maine CDC reported four additional deaths of people with COVID-19. The state death toll stands at 562 deaths.

The four additional deaths reported Wednesday include two residents of Cumberland County, one resident of Kennebec County, and one resident of Penobscot County. All four were men. One was between 40 and 49 years old, two were between 70 and 79 years old, and one was 80 or older.

The Maine CDC reported 462 additional COVID-19 cases.

Of the 38,170 total COVID-19 cases in Maine, 30,817 were confirmed by tests and 7,353 are probable.

12,316 Mainers have completed COVID-19 isolation.

  • Total currently hospitalized = 183
  • In critical care = 51
  • On a ventilator = 30
  • Available critical care beds = 104
  • Total critical care beds = 397
  • Available ventilators = 225
  • Total ventilators = 320
  • Alternative ventilators = 443

The Maine CDC's next state coronavirus update is scheduled for 2 p.m. Thursday.

Credit: NCM

TUESDAY, JANUARY 26

The Maine CDC reported 11 additional deaths of people with COVID-19. The state death toll stands at 558.

The Maine CDC reported 662 additional COVID-19 cases.

Of 37,708 total COVID-19 cases in Maine, 30,496 were confirmed by tests and 7,212 are probable.

12,275 Mainers have completed COVID-19 isolation.

The Maine CDC is scheduled to provide a state coronavirus update at 2 p.m. Tuesday. NEWS CENTER Maine will stream the update live on air, as well as on our website, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and mobile app.

Credit: NCM

Tuesday Coronavirus Briefing

The 11 additional deaths reported Tuesday were residents of:

  • Aroostook County: 1
  • Cumberland County: 5
  • Hancock County: 2
  • Kennebec County: 2
  • Penobscot County: 1

One person was in their 70s and 10 were in their 80s. Six were women and five were men.

Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah reflected on the grim milestone the U.S. reached in terms of deaths related to COVID-19. There are now 422,000 deaths associated with COVID-19 across the U.S. 

"That number is almost too large to contemplate, too large to appreciate," Shah said. He said the U.S. has now seen more deaths from COVID-19 than American soldiers killed in WWII. 

"Where we go from here is up to all of us," he said. "The arrival of vaccines presents hope, but we still have much to do before vaccines present that hope to us in a way that reduces the number of deaths every day."

Currently in Maine, 194 people are hospitalized with COVID-19. Of those, 59 are in the ICU, and 25 are on a ventilator. 

Shah said Maine's positivity rate has continued to decrease in recent days. The seven-day PCR test positivity rate remains at 3.65 percent. That is in part because the testing volume across the state has continued to increase, Shah said, (now 764 tests per 100,000 people). Shah says that's as close to the highest level it's ever been. 

Similarly, the antigen test positivity rate -- 6.53 percent with a testing volume of 165 tests per 100,000 people -- has been more stable.  

Notable updates on open outbreak investigations:

  • Maine Veteran's Home in South Paris: 19 cases
  • Cyr Bus Line in Bangor: 8 cases

Notable new outbreaks:

  • Lisbon Public Works: 6 cases
  • Oxford Casino: 5 cases
  • Oxford Street Shelter: 8 cases (5 among residents, 3 among staff)
  • Cianbro construction work site at the VA in Augusta: 11 cases

Vaccines and vaccinations

Cumulatively across Maine, 115,213 vaccine doses have been administered. Of those, 89,654 are first doses and 25,559 are second doses. 

"We are heartened by the fact that so many individuals across the state of Maine can't wait to be vaccinated," Shah said, speaking of the volume of phone calls and inquiries they've received. He said just a few months ago the national conversation was, "If there's a vaccine, will folks want to take it?"

"I'm encouraged and really happy that so many folks in Maine have decided that vaccines and vaccinations are the right thing[s] for them," Shah said. "We know right now, that the number of individuals who want to be vaccinated greatly outstrips the supply of vaccine that we have available. So I'd once again like to ask for your patience."

Shah said they hope more vaccine doses are on the way.

Since law enforcement and certain individuals who are critical to the statewide COVID-19 response effort were added to phase 1A of the vaccination plan, the total in the phase stands at about 143,000 (previously about 130,000). Based on recent talks with various hospitals, the state hasn't seen any serious challenges thus far to getting through phase 1A of vaccinations, he said.

Shah answered a few questions he's heard repeatedly:

Why can't I sign up and then be contacted when it's my turn?

Shah said some facilities in Maine may already be pre-registering people for the vaccine. The Maine CDC and the Mills administration are developing a statewide platform that will allow anyone in the state to register to be contacted when the vaccine becomes available to them.

"We're not there yet," Shah said, "but it is being worked on ... We want to get it right, rather than just get it fast,"

Why isn't my doctor's office contacting me so I can be vaccinated?

Not all doctor's offices and outpatient clinical practices will offer the vaccine. The Maine CDC tried to prioritize getting the vaccine to places that could vaccinate the most people quickly, he said.

The state still has not received adequate doses of the vaccine, Shah said. This week, Maine is getting about 18,000 doses of the vaccine although there are more than 190,000 people in Maine aged 70 and older.

But what if I don't use a computer?

Shah says the Maine CDC is establishing a call center to arrange appointments. 

Finally, Shah says the Maine CDC has received reports of phone calls coming in from an 844 area code number from people claiming to be either contact tracers or confirming a vaccine appointment and then asking for the person's social security number. 

Shah reminded everyone that Maine CDC contact tracers will not ask for your social security number.

MONDAY, JANUARY 25

The Maine CDC reported three additional deaths of people with COVID-19. The state death toll stands at 547.

The Maine CDC reported 259 additional COVID-19 cases in the state.

Of 37,046 total COVID-19 cases in Maine, 30,108 were confirmed by tests and 6,938 are probable.

  • Cumulative reported vaccinations: 110,332
  • First doses: 87,292
  • Second doses: 23,040
  • Currently hospitalized: 193
  • In critical care: 59
  • On a ventilator: 20

12,245 Mainers have completed COVID-19 isolation.

Credit: NCM

SUNDAY, JANUARY 24 

The Maine CDC reported 0 additional deaths of people with COVID-19. The state death toll stands at 544 deaths.

According to the Maine CDC:

  • Cumulative reported vaccinations = 109,262
  • First doses = 86,605
  • Second doses = 22,657
  • Total currently hospitalized = 189
  • In critical care = 55
  • On a ventilator = 20
  • Available critical care beds = 95
  • Total critical care beds = 394
  • Available ventilators = 224
  • Total ventilators = 320
  • Alternative ventilators = 443

The Maine CDC reported 189 additional COVID-19 cases in the state.

Of the 36,787 total COVID-19 cases in Maine, 29,913 are confirmed by tests and 6,874 are probable. 

12,225* Mainers have completed COVID-19 isolation.

  • Cumulative reported vaccinations = 98,371
  • First doses = 78,395
  • Second doses = 19,876
  • Total currently hospitalized = 190
  • In critical care = 61
  • On a ventilator = 19

The Maine CDC's next state coronavirus update is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 26.

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