Maine health officials on Tuesday reported 1,089 new cases of COVID-19 for the three-day period from Saturday through Monday.
In addition, 28 new deaths were reported, although it’s likely that many of those occurred previously and were detected during a periodic review of death certificates.
With the new cases, the seven-day case average now stands at 694, compared to 547 cases on average two weeks ago and 463 cases this time last month. On the two previous Tuesdays, 946 and 983 cases were reported, respectively.
Despite a high vaccination rate, Maine has seen sustained levels of virus transmission for weeks that could worsen following the Thanksgiving holiday when many will be gathering in groups indoors.
Since the pandemic began, there have 116,948 confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 and 1,300 deaths, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Both are among the lowest per capita of any state even with the recent surge.
Hospitalizations had not been updated Tuesday, but Monday’s total of 296 set another pandemic high. Of those, 87 were in critical care, which is one shy of the record set in September, and 36 were on ventilators. Over the last two weeks, the number of daily hospitalizations has increased by 38 percent. More than 3,000 individuals have been hospitalized with COVID-19 since March 2020.
Vaccinations, meanwhile, have continued at high levels, fueled largely by booster doses and first doses of vaccine for children age 5-11. Overall, Maine has administered 910,224 final doses of vaccine, accounting for 67.7 percent of all residents, and 260,225 booster doses, or 19 percent of Mainers, according to the Maine CDC. The number of final doses has decreased over the last several days because some vaccine providers previously reported booster doses as final doses.
Among elementary school age children, 23,612 have gotten first doses, which represents 24.5 percent of all children in that range. In Cumberland County, the rate is 42 percent, while seven counties have yet to reach 15 percent.
Cases have started to rise again across the country after declining during most of September and October. According to the U.S. CDC, the seven-day average this week is 91,021, an increase of 23 percent over 73,948 cases per day this time last month.
Maine’s recent transmission remains higher than the national average. Over the last seven days, the state is averaging 350 cases per 100,000 people, which ranks 12th, according to the U.S. CDC. The U.S. average over that time has been 192 cases. Nearby New Hampshire and Vermont also are seeing high transmission.
Although Maine’s overall vaccination rate is high, there are large pockets of unvaccinated people in many rural areas and that’s where the virus has been spreading most. The same has been true in New Hampshire and Vermont. Those hospitalized, especially critical care patients, also have been overwhelmingly unvaccinated.
This story will be updated