The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday reported 444 cases of the novel coronavirus, and 30 new deaths, ending a week where Maine recorded days with new cases over 800, as well as further vaccine delays from the federal government.
The state’s cumulative cases rose to 33,219. Of those, 27,249 have been confirmed by testing and 5,970 are considered probable cases of COVID-19.
Five hundred seven people have died with COVID-19 since the pandemic began in Maine, and 194 are currently hospitalized with the disease. Of the whopping 30 deaths reported on Saturday, seven were new, Maine CDC spokesman Robert Long said. The remaining 23 occurred since Dec. 24 and have recently been attributed to COVID-19.
Half of those 30 people were women and half were men, Long said. Eight were from Penobscot County, with five each from York and Cumberland, four each from Oxford and Aroostook, two from Hancock, and one each from Androscoggin and Kennebec. Two were in their 60s, three were in their 70s, and 25 were 80 or older.
Meanwhile, Maine has given 74,805 people at least the first dose of a vaccine against COVID-19, with 11,537 having received a second dose. But states expecting an extra boost to their vaccine supply were disappointed this week, when they learned from federal officials that a reserve stockpile designated to be released by the Trump administration was already empty.
Both of the vaccines authorized for use in the U.S. require two doses for full effectiveness, and the administration’s initial policy had been to hold back extra shots to make sure those immunized received both doses. But Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s vaccine program, stopped stockpiling those doses at the end of last year.
Some states had made plans to expand vaccine eligibility because of an anticipated boost in doses from the release of that stockpile. Those plans now will have to be scaled back as the government pulls vaccine doses directly from the production line to send to states.
In Maine, Gov. Janet Mills recently increased vaccine priority for people 70 and older, as well as those with high-risk health conditions. Now, state officials say they don’t know whether vaccine production will keep up with their plans.
State medical networks, which include major hospitals such as Maine Medical Center, are also making plans for large-scale vaccination clinics in the event that large supplies of vaccine become available for general distribution to the public. MaineHealth, the parent of Maine Med, has already vaccinated 22,000 health care workers, and is preparing to set up clinics outside its health practices across the state.
Meanwhile, the virus is surging among the non-immunized population. Maine reported 823 new cases on Friday, and on Saturday the seven-day average of new daily cases reached 602.
In York County, the town of Alfred’s fire and rescue squad reported an outbreak of COVID-19 that has forced officials to shut down the station and send staff home to quarantine. Town officials announced the outbreak in a post to the municipal website, saying “multiple” staff members had tested positive without specifying how many or who they were.
“Obviously our fire and rescue personnel took all the precautions that are possible, but considering all the close contact with other people it is not surprising this occurred,” the announcement said. “It’s the reason first responders get the first doses of the vaccine, but as you know the numbers have surged recently and this is a reflection of that surge.”
The nearby municipalities of Sanford, Waterboro, Lyman and Kennebunk will help to cover emergency calls in Alfred until its services are back online. Alfred residents in need of emergency assistance should dial 9-1-1 as normal.
County by county in Maine since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been 3,563 coronavirus cases in Androscoggin, 1,011 in Aroostook, 9,735 in Cumberland, 561 in Franklin, 680 in Hancock, 2,535 in Kennebec, 479 in Knox, 393 in Lincoln, 1,549 in Oxford, 2,535 in Penobscot, 162 in Piscataquis, 613 in Sagadahoc, 938 in Somerset, 428 in Waldo, 492 in Washington, and 7,222 in York.
By age, 14.3 percent of patients were under 20, while 17.9 percent were in their 20s, 14.5 percent were in their 30s, 13.1 percent were in their 40s, 15.5 percent were in their 50s, 11.9 percent were in their 60s, 6.9 percent were in their 70s, and 6.1 percent were 80 or older.
One hundred ninety-four patients with COVID-19 were in Maine hospitals on Saturday. Of those 194 patients, 59 were in intensive care and 22 were on ventilators. The state had 95 intensive care unit beds available of a total 392, and 228 ventilators available of 320. There were also 443 alternative ventilators.
Around the world on Saturday, there were 93.9 million known cases of COVID-19 and over 2 million deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. The United States had 23.5 million cases and 392,000 deaths.