Maine reported 47 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and no additional deaths, a day after becoming one of the first states in the nation to establish a centralized pubic database of cases in public and private schools.

The one-day new-case total  is the highest since the state recorded 51 new cases on Sept. 29. The seven-day average of daily new cases was 32.8 on Wednesday, up from 30.8 a week ago and 26.8 a month ago.

Kennebec and York counties reported nine cases each Wednesday, Androscoggin County recorded six cases and Cumberland County tracked five new cases.

Since the pandemic began, Maine has reported 5,780 cases and 143 deaths.

The seven-day average positivity rate – the percentage of tests that come back positive – was at 0.46 percent on Tuesday, the latest day the data was available. The positivity rate has mostly fluctuated between 0.5 percent and 0.6 percent over the past month.

Current hospitalizations remained low Wednesday, with eight people hospitalized statewide, three in intensive care.

Maine became the fourth of the six New England states to publish school infections data for COVID-19 online, but few states have done so elsewhere in the country.

A sign by the entrance to a seafood wholesaler at Maine Wharf in Portland. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

The data from the Maine Department of Education lists 59 schools that have reported a total of 112 cases among students or staff, in pre-K through grade 12 of both public and private schools, within the past 30 days. Included are four schools with outbreaks that remain open. The dashboard will be updated on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The website doesn’t list the number of cases in a school if it’s fewer than five in order to protect patient privacy, the department said in a news release. However, Maine school superintendents have been routinely telling parents in open letters precisely how many cases are at each school.

Kelli Deveaux, Maine DOE spokeswoman, said in an email response to questions from the Press Herald that “the state must abide by patient confidentiality requirements regardless of information released by other entities, including schools and school districts.”

Like Maine, Rhode Island doesn’t release the number at a school if it’s under five. New Hampshire and Vermont list the exact number of cases at each school, no matter how few. Connecticut and Massachusetts do not appear to have centralized databases listing where cases and outbreaks have occurred.

Deveaux said schools will drop off the dashboard once outbreaks have been closed and no additional positive cases are reported for more than 30 days.

“To my knowledge not many states are doing school-by-school data,” Stephen Kissler, a research fellow at the department of immunology and infectious diseases at Harvard University, said in a conference call with reporters on Wednesday.

The National Education Association tracks cases and outbreaks in schools by state, but the figures are often derived from media reports or letters from schools and not from a centralized state database.

Kissler said that based on available data, with the understanding that it is only October and still early in the school year, schools across the nation are generally doing a good job of preventing outbreaks.

“There have been outbreaks, but I have been encouraged they haven’t been more widespread,” Kissler said. “This is a testament to the preparation of administrators, hard work of teachers and buy-in from students. I don’t want to be premature and declare this a rousing success, but we have seen more success than expected.”

In the last 30 days in Maine, four pre-K through 12 schools have had COVID-19 outbreaks: Sanford High School, Massabesic Middle School in East Waterboro, Community Regional Charter School in Cornville and Skowhegan, and Coastal Ridge Elementary School in York. During the same period, 55 other schools had at least one case.

“The rate of COVID-19 in schools is in-line with the overall prevalence of COVID-19 in Maine,” the Department of Education said in a news release. The case rate in schools is five cases per 10,000 population, while the overall rate for the state is 6.7 per 10,000.

In one of the latest cases reported by schools, Mabel I. Wilson Elementary School in Cumberland has reported one confirmed and two probable cases of COVID-19. The school was closed Wednesday because of a staffing shortage and will also be closed Thursday, according to a letter sent to parents.


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