The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday reported 12 new COVID-19 cases and no additional deaths, the 11th day of cases under 50, making for a seven-day average not seen since early September.

Workers, meanwhile, are enjoying a highly favorable job market as Maine undergoes a labor crisis fueled by a lack of foreign students and lingering pandemic effects. There were approximately 28,500 fewer people in the workforce in May 2021 than before the pandemic, and employers are doing all they can to entice workers to fill open positions as the tourism season continues.

Maine’s cumulative COVID-19 cases rose to 68,976 on Sunday. Of those, 50,457 have been confirmed by testing and 18,519 are considered probable cases. The seven-day average of new daily cases was 21.4, while the 14-day average was 27.6 cases.

Eight hundred fifty-eight people have died with COVID-19 in Maine since the pandemic began.

In a recent U.S. Census survey, 22 percent of unemployed Mainers listed personal health or safety as a reason for not working, perhaps indicating that a lingering fear of COVID-19 is keeping some positions open. Another 15 percent said they were caregivers.

Much of the gap can be explained by the lack of seasonal workers from abroad, who typically fill tourism and hospitality jobs. About 5,000 foreign visitors on temporary student visas came to Maine in 2019, but only a few hundred made it during the pandemic. So far, those numbers have not rebounded.

Some business owners have raised wages and benefits to fill positions. Garrett Gordon, co-owner of The Dump Guy, a waste removal businesses in Scarborough, told the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram that he increased his foremen’s starting wage to $18.50 from $16 an hour, with a $1,000 bonus after a month at work and other bonuses and benefits.

“I’m one of the only guys that is fully staffed right now, but I’ve had to do a lot to compensate our workers,” Gordon said. “It is a job market I’ve never experienced in 15 years I’ve owned the business.”

Earlier this month, Gov. Janet Mills offered a one-time bonus of $1,500 to unemployed people who take a job by the end of June; those who wait until July may still get $1,000.

By Sunday morning, Maine had fully vaccinated 773,992 people. Among residents 12 and older, the population currently eligible for vaccination, 65.36 percent are now fully vaccinated.

County by county as of Sunday, there had been 8,402 coronavirus cases in Androscoggin, 1,900 in Aroostook, 17,243 in Cumberland, 1,382 in Franklin, 1,376 in Hancock, 6,605 in Kennebec, 1,145 in Knox, 1,079 in Lincoln, 3,645 in Oxford, 6,342 in Penobscot, 587 in Piscataquis, 1,474 in Sagadahoc, 2,285 in Somerset, 1,049 in Waldo, 941 in Washington and 13,521 in York.

By age, 18.9 percent of patients were under 20, 18.3 percent were in their 20s, 15.2 percent were in their 30s, 13.4 percent were in their 40s, 14.5 percent were in their 50s, 10.2 percent were in their 60s, 5.3 percent were in their 70s, and 4.2 percent were 80 or older.

Knox and Waldo counties had no new cases in the past week, and Lincoln and Sagadahoc had only one each.

Maine hospitals had 26 patients with COVID-19 on Sunday, of whom 14 were in intensive care and seven were on ventilators. The state had 79 intensive care unit beds available of a total 380, and 234 ventilators available of 319. There were also 451 alternative ventilators.

Around the world late Sunday afternoon, there were 180.9 million cumulative cases of COVID-19 and 3.9 million deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. The United States had 33.6 million cases and 603,966 deaths.


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