As Maine enters the crescendo of the summer tourist season, the state remains in an enviable position across a wide range of key pandemic tracking metrics, including having the second lowest new case counts per capita in the United States.

On Thursday morning, Maine actually had the lowest number of COVID-19 new weekly cases per capita in the country – 6 per 100,000 – according to a widely followed tracker at The New York Times, but at midnight Friday it returned to 7 per 100,000, second best after Vermont. By comparison, Massachusetts’ rate is 37, Georgia’s 214 and Florida’s 218 per 100,000.

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 in Maine reached the lowest levels since the beginning of the pandemic over the week ending Thursday, and the positivity rate for nonresidents tested for the disease in Maine has improved, falling from over 4 percent in late July to an average of 2 percent during the period July 31 to Aug. 10, according to data provided by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Testing turnaround times for Mainers whose providers used Quest Diagnostics and other national labs to process COVID-19 tests have also improved over the past three weeks. InterMed, a large primary care provider in southern Maine that uses Quest, has seen wait times for its patients reduced to three to five days, down from as many as 12 days during the third week of July, when the provider had been overwhelmed by testing demands from the South and Southwest, where the disease has surged.

Maine Urgent Care, which provides testing at sites in Topsham, Lewiston and Augusta via Quest, saw wait times for non-symptomatic patients fall to three to four days, down from four to seven, according to Chiara Beckner, director of service line strategy at its parent entity, Central Maine Health Care.

Statewide, 11 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Friday morning, and hospitalizations for the disease over the past week reached the lowest levels since the first days of the pandemic.

The key metric, which typically lags exposure to the disease by one to three weeks, had steadily fallen for weeks, even as summer tourism season has progressed here and the disease has surged to crisis levels in other parts of the country.

Maine Medical Center, which has handled nearly half the state’s coronavirus burden through most of the crisis, had an average of 4.9 confirmed COVID-19 inpatients each day for the week ending Thursday, up  slightly from 4.7 last week, but far below its peak daily census counts of 35 set on both April 7 and May 25.

Central Maine Medical Center had an average of one COVID-19 inpatient a day, down from 3.3 last week, while Lewiston’s other hospital, St. Mary’s, had just one patient during the week, for an average of 0.14 a day.

Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick had 0.14 patients per day, sharply down from the week before, which was its busiest since May with 1.4 COVID-19 inpatients a day.

Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor had 0.7 such patients per day, while MaineGeneral in Augusta, once one of the busiest coronavirus hospitals in the state, hasn’t had an inpatient with the disease since July 27. Portland’s Mercy Hospital also had no patients for the week.

York Hospital in York had 0.7 patients a day during the period, after having gone from June 23 to Aug. 6 without one, while Southern Maine Health Care Medical Center in Biddeford had no patients at all.

Bridgton Hospital had an average of one COVID-19 inpatient a day, but three other hospitals that had reported having patients during June – Rumford, and Waldo in Belfast and Franklin Memorial in Farmington – had none for the week.

Maine Coast Hospital in Ellsworth had its first-ever COVID-19 inpatient on Aug. 7, but its census count returned to zero the following day.

Hospitalizations can end three ways: recovery, death or transfer to another facility. The data does not include outpatients or inpatients who were suspected of having the virus but never tested.

The Press Herald’s survey is for the seven days ending Aug. 13. It compiles data received directly from the hospitals and hospital networks. It includes most, but not all, of the state’s hospitals, but accounts for the vast majority of the statewide hospitalizations reported each week by the Maine CDC.

Related Headlines


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.