The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday reported 295 more cases of COVID-19 and no additional deaths, a continued rise in infections as the state prepares to throw open the doors for vaccination at midweek.

Health officials have raised concerns that a spring surge in cases could jeopardize their efforts to stamp out the coronavirus through herd immunity, and are asking Mainers to get vaccinated. All Mainers age 16 and older will be eligible to get a shot starting this Wednesday, as Maine anticipates receiving even larger shipments of doses.

Maine’s cumulative COVID-19 cases rose to 51,763 on Sunday. Of those, 39,520 have been confirmed by testing and 12,243 are considered probable cases of COVID-19. The seven-day average of new daily cases climbed to 273.1 on Sunday, above Saturday’s 259.1 and much higher than the previous Saturday’s 194.4.

Seven hundred forty-five people have died with COVID-19 since the pandemic began in Maine.

As of Sunday, 458,324 Mainers had received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 308,660 had received their final dose. Out of Maine’s population of 1.3 million, 34.1 percent have received their first dose, according to Maine CDC statistics.

 

Meanwhile, a debate has begun over whether businesses and other public establishments should institute a “vaccine passport” system to encourage immunization and reduce spread among the unvaccinated population. Under such a system, people wishing to attend a concert, for instance, would need to show proof of vaccination.

And last week, the director of operations at Thompson’s Point, a popular venue in Portland, said that if a viable passport system were available the business would consider using it. The business and health benefits are easy to see: If every person at a particular event is vaccinated, the odds of spreading disease are minuscule.

But opponents have raised concern about health privacy. Should people be required to share personal health information in order to participate in public life?

Other states have taken a range of different approaches. In Florida last week, Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order forbidding any business from requiring proof of vaccination. But in New York, officials have developed the “Excelsior Pass,” a collaboration with IBM that allows people with proof of immunization to attend such major venues as Madison Square Garden and Times Union Center in Albany.

Gov. Janet Mills has the power to create such a system, but so far hasn’t done so. Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine CDC, said the idea had some public health merits, but also raised privacy and equity issues.

“That approach … is not without concern,” Shah said last week. “There are significant concerns about data privacy, as well as significant concerns about equity. If the passport presupposes that you have to be vaccinated, have we really done a good job getting those folks vaccinated in the first place? I think that’s why right now our focus is on getting folks who are eligible in the door for vaccinations.”

County by county as of Sunday, there had been 5,473 coronavirus cases in Androscoggin, 1,437 in Aroostook, 14,203 in Cumberland, 1,002 in Franklin, 1,087 in Hancock, 4,434 in Kennebec, 819 in Knox, 680 in Lincoln, 2,628 in Oxford, 4,727 in Penobscot, 389 in Piscataquis, 1,009 in Sagadahoc, 1,434 in Somerset, 722 in Waldo, 782 in Washington and 10,937 in York.

By age, 16.5 percent of patients were under 20, while 18.2 percent were in their 20s, 14.3 percent were in their 30s, 13.2 percent were in their 40s, 15.3 percent were in their 50s, 11.4 percent were in their 60s, 6.1 percent were in their 70s, and 5 percent were 80 or older.

Of the 72 patients with COVID-19 in Maine hospitals on Sunday, 28 were in intensive care and eight were on ventilators. The state had 96 intensive care unit beds available of a total 378, and 245 ventilators available of 319. There were also 446 alternative ventilators.

Around the world late Sunday afternoon, there were 131.1 million known cases of COVID-19 and nearly 2.85 million deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. The United States had 30.7 million cases and 554,988 deaths.

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