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9 percent of Maine's COVID-19 cases have occurred in past 2 weeks, as CDC notes flu season concerns

Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah highlighted several areas of concern during Thursday's update, including an increase in cases that aren't linked to outbreaks.

MAINE, USA — 94 additional cases of COVID-19 have been logged in Maine within the past two days (Wednesday and Thursday), raising concerns by Maine CDC for a variety of reasons.

Maine has logged 488 new COVID-19 cases in the past two weeks, which is nine percent of all of Maine's cumulative cases.

The average age of people in Maine diagnosed with COVID-19 over the past two weeks is 40. In March, April, and May, however, the average age of Maine's COVID-19 patients was 51.

"What that means is that in recent weeks, younger individuals in Maine are being affected by COVID-19. That's concerning, partly because they are younger individuals but also because as we've seen from data from the U.S. CDC, increases of COVID-19 among younger individuals precede later increases of COVID-19 among older individuals," Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah said. "So the decrease in the average age of new cases in recent weeks is a concerning sign for us."

Dr. Shah also noted the geographic spread of COVID-19 as an area of concern. In the past two weeks, Maine has seen new cases in all 16 counties. However, as Dr. Shah noted, there are not open outbreaks in all 16 counties. 

Of the 488 new COVID-19 cases in Maine in the past two weeks, 412 are not associated with any known outbreaks. Only 76 are known to be associated with an outbreak.

"So what we are seeing is the continual spread of COVID-19, particularly in parts of the state where previously there had been fewer cases," Dr. Shah said.

Dr. Shah noted these numbers may change as Maine CDC progresses with its current outbreak investigations.

RELATED: Maine DHHS invests $1M in COVID-19 prevention for congregate settings

194 of the 488 cases are from York County — about 40 percent. Dr. Shah said York County accounts for about 15 percent of Maine's population but 40 percent of the state's new COVID-19 cases in the past two weeks. 

There are 17 open outbreak investigations in York County alone - more than half of all of Maine CDC's open outbreak investigations.

Dr. Shah said in the past two weeks Maine has had:

  • Eight new cases in Lincoln County
  • Five new cases in Penobscot County
  • Two new cases in Somerset County
  • Two new cases in Waldo County
  • Two new cases in Aroostook County
  • One new case in Hancock County
  • One new case in Piscataquis County
  • One new case in Washington County

Dr. Shah also noted that Maine CDC is beginning to see an uptick in cases in Hancock, Piscataquis, and Washington Counties.

Dr. Shah did note expanded testing in Maine as at least a partial reason for the uptick in cases. However, he said that doesn't diminish the concern.

"Although this case rise is concerning, it's also one that we planned would occur as we set ourselves forth in undertaking expanded testing. But that doesn't reduce the risk," Dr. Shah said. "The concern here, overall, is that even though we anticipated finding new cases because we set out to look for them, what this tells us is what we expected all along, which is that the virus is in every part of the state and that each and every one of us is potentially vulnerable to it."

RELATED: How the Maine CDC contact tracing process works and what to expect if they contact you

Flu Season

Dr. Shah said he recently got his flu shot, reiterating the importance of doing so as winter arrives with COVID-19 still present in the state.

"This onset of winter raises two concerns from a public health perspective. The first is that we are going to be facing the onset not just of COVID-19 but also influenza on top of that," Dr. Shah said. "Both of those diseases on their own can be deadly, but the possibility that we could be grappling with both poses extra challenges - not just to healthcare providers but also to all of us."

The second concern Maine CDC has going into winter is that many of us will be going back indoors more.

"We will lose the protective effect of being outdoors," Dr. Shah said. "The UV light, the better ventilation, the natural spacing that can come with being outdoors."

Dr. Shah said moving more social events indoors will present a higher risk of both COVID-19 and the flu.

"You've got steps that you can take to keep you and your family safe," Dr. Shah said. "In addition to spacing out even when you're inside and wearing face coverings when you've got friends or family visiting indoors, you can also take your family to go get a flu shot. It's one of the safest ways to keep that bubble that we've all talked about as impenetrable as possible as we go into the winter months."