Maine reported an additional 45 cases of COVID-19 on Friday, adding to the increase in the seven-day average of daily new cases.

The new cases bring Maine’s total since the start of the pandemic to 69,418. There have been 878 deaths, including one – a man 80 or older from Kennebec County – reported Friday.

Around the country, public health officials have attributed a recent rise in cases to the spread of the highly transmissible delta variant, increases in gatherings and lagging vaccination numbers. Maine’s new case numbers are still far below the daily case counts the state was seeing at peaks in January and April, but the seven-day average has increased over recent weeks.

On Friday the seven-day average of daily new cases was at 34.7, up from 20.7 one week ago and 22.1 two weeks ago. The seven-day positivity rate for PCR tests was 1.08. That’s more than double the .45 percent rate nine days ago.

Androscoggin County reported the highest rate of new cases over the last two weeks with 45 total cases, or just over four new cases per 10,000 residents. Washington County, which saw just three new cases over the last two weeks, reported the lowest new case rate at 0.96 cases per 10,000 residents, according to new county-by-county CDC data.

Hospitalizations around the state have remained fairly steady in recent weeks. On Friday there were 31 people hospitalized, including 16 in critical care and six on ventilators.

Vaccinations, meanwhile, have dropped off, though Maine continues to have one of the best vaccination rates in the country. As of Thursday, 59.5 percent of Maine’s 1.3 million people had received their final dose of the vaccine. That figure rises to 67.6 percent among residents 12 or older who are eligible for vaccination.

The Maine CDC has tracked 560 “breakthrough” cases of fully vaccinated people who have contracted the virus, which is 0.07 percent of the more than 800,000 vaccinated individuals in the state.

Around the U.S., daily case numbers are climbing as the delta variant, a highly transmissible form of the disease first detected in India, spreads mostly among unvaccinated people. According to the New York Times, daily case counts are up more than 100 percent over two weeks ago with Arkansas and Missouri – two states with low vaccination rates – leading the country in new case rates.

On Friday there were 35,561 new cases of COVID-19 reported nationwide, bringing the nation’s seven-day daily average of new cases to 28,315. The seven-day average two weeks ago was 12,799, the Times reported.

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