State health officials reported just 18 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, as Maine’s positive test rate fell below 1 percent for the first time since October.

Monday also marked the fourth consecutive day without any additional COVID-related deaths.

While case numbers are often lower Mondays because testing volume drops on weekends, Maine’s seven-day average of new cases of the viral disease has been falling for weeks. The average stood at 36 Monday compared to 69 two weeks ago and a seven-day average of 99 on June 1, according to figures from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The number of new cases reported daily has stayed below 100 in Maine for more than two weeks at a time when tourists are flocking back to the state. During the peak weeks of Maine’s springtime surge, laboratories around the state were often reporting 400 to 500 new cases of COVID-19 per day.

Another closely watched indicator of the spread of the virus – the percent of tests that come back positive for COVID-19 – is also falling. The seven-day average for positive molecular, or PCR, tests fell below 1 percent for the first time since Oct. 30, when the state began to experience the worst surge of the pandemic.

There have been at least 854 deaths linked to COVID-19 in Maine and 68,844 total confirmed or probable cases since the coronavirus was first detected in the state in March 2020.

The rate of COVID-related deaths in Maine and nationally is down dramatically due, in large part, to vaccinations of older individuals who were at higher risk of serious illness from the virus.

Maine CDC has not reported any additional deaths since Thursday and just 14 deaths since June 1, compared to 45 in May and 225 for the month of January during one of the worst periods of the pandemic. Thirty people were hospitalized statewide with COVID-19 on Monday – compared to 106 hospitalizations one month ago – and 17 individuals were in critical care beds, with six people connected to ventilators.

Health care providers have now administered more than 1.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines in the state, although the pace of vaccinations has fallen precipitously in the past two months.

Just over 57 percent of the state’s population of 1.3 million residents had received either both doses of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines or the single-shot vaccine produced by Johnson & Johnson as of Sunday morning. That figure rises to 64.8 percent when zeroing in on the age 12 and older population that is currently eligible for vaccination.

Maine CDC data show that just over 15,000 vaccine shots were administered statewide since last Monday, which is less in one week than were administered on a single day at some points in March and April. Demand for vaccine shots has been sagging across the country, however, and Maine continues to rank second in the nation behind Vermont in terms of the percent of the population that has been fully vaccinated, according to tracking by Bloomberg.

Most of the state’s mass vaccination clinics – such as those operating for months in Portland, Scarborough and Bangor – have ceased operations and the mobile vaccination unit operated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency wrapped up a two-month tour through Maine last Friday.

Instead, most shots are being delivered at retail pharmacies, in doctor’s offices and regional health centers, and at “pop-up” clinics being offered at businesses and events around the state. Vaccination against COVID-19 is free in Maine and everyone age 12 or older is eligible.

As a way to encourage more people to get vaccinated – and recognize those who already have – the administration of Gov. Janet Mills announced last week that anyone who has received at least one shot is eligible to win a prize equivalent to $1 for every person who has been vaccinated in Maine by July 4. As of Monday morning, 192,355 Maine residents had registered for the “Don’t Miss Your Shot: Vaccination Sweepstakes,” which totaled more than $882,000. Registration is available at govstatus.egov.com/me-sweepstakes-home or by calling Maine’s Community Vaccination line at 1-888-445-4111.

MaineHealth, the state’s largest health care provider, is partnering with breweries and tasting rooms around the state to offer single-shot J&J vaccines to eligible individuals with no appointment necessary. In addition to regular walk-up clinics at many MaineHealth facilities, upcoming pop-up events include:

• Maine Beer Company in Freeport on June 23 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

• Thompson’s Point in Portland on June 24 from 4 to 8 p.m.

• United Farmer’s Market in Belfast on June 26 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

• Portland House of Music on July 7 and July 12 from 8 to 11 p.m.

• Strong Brewing Co. in Sedgwick on July 5 from 3 to 6 p.m.

• Marshall Wharf Brewing Co. and Three Tides in Belfast on July 8 from 2 to 4 p.m.

• Odd Alewives Farm Brewery in Waldoboro on July 11 from 2 to 4 p.m.

Northern Light Health is also partnering with businesses to offer walk-up vaccination in addition to regular clinics at many of the network’s facilities. Current pop-up clinic dates and locations include:

• Footprints Food Pantry in Kittery on June 23 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

• Lakes Region Recovery Center in Bridgton on June 24.

• Bangor Pride Stationary Parade at Hollywood Casino on June 26 starting at noon.

• Saco Arts Festival on June 26 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

• Kennedy Park Basketball Court in Portland on June 27 from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.


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.