Maine health officials reported 54 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, nearly half the total from one day earlier but still much higher than daily totals from a couple weeks ago.

No additional deaths were reported.

The seven-day daily case average has been rising steadily since bottoming out at about 18 cases per day earlier this month. It now sits at 59 cases, according to data from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Cases topped 100 on Thursday for the first time in more than a month.

Of the new cases reported Friday, 17 were in York County, which has seen the biggest increase in new transmissions over the last couple weeks, possibly attributable to tourist traffic.

Since the pandemic began, there have been 69,834 confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 and 891 deaths in the state.

As of Friday, there were 25 individuals in the hospital in Maine with COVID-19, including 16 in critical care and seven on ventilators. The number of daily hospitalizations has remained stable for more than a month, but that is often a lagging indicator behind case increases.


An overwhelming majority of those hospitalized are unvaccinated, and Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah said Friday that the average age of those hospitalized with COVID-19 is 57. In January, during the worst stretch of the pandemic, the average age was 72.

Cases have been rising in all 50 states over the last few weeks as the highly transmissible delta variant has taken hold. Maine’s increase has not been as sharp as some other states with lower vaccination rates, but Shah also has said the delta variant doesn’t appear to be the major driver of new transmission here yet.

Although the increasing case counts are alarming, experts have said fully vaccinated people remain well protected. They can still get the virus, but they are far less likely to develop serious symptoms if they do. Among those hospitalized with COVID-19 in recent weeks, the U.S. CDC has said 97 percent are unvaccinated. Similarly, the overwhelming majority of recent deaths from COVID-19 have been in those not fully vaccinated.

The Biden administration is said to be considering reinstituting a mask mandate, even for vaccinated individuals, in an effort to slow the recent surge. Some communities, including Los Angeles County, already have put mandates back in place.

In Maine, some health care providers have started expanding COVID-19 testing options again as cases rise.

Northern Light Mercy Hospital announced Friday that, beginning in August, its walk-in care sites in Gorham, Windham and Westbrook will offer testing, as will the Northern Light pharmacy on the Fore River Parkway and the Northern Light Mercy lab on State Street in Portland.

Experts also continue to stress the importance of vaccinations, which have dropped dramatically over the last couple months.

As of Friday, 60 percent of all Mainers – and 68 percent of those 12 or older who are eligible – have been fully vaccinated. Maine ranks behind only Vermont and Massachusetts in states with the highest rate, according to a Bloomberg tracker. The national rate has yet to reach 50 percent and 11 states – nearly all in the south – have rates below 40 percent.

Vaccinations have been stagnant for weeks, including in Maine, where the rate for younger adults continues to lag. Among individuals in their 20s, for instance, just 51 percent are vaccinated and the rate is much lower in some rural counties. In Piscataquis, Somerset and Washington counties, fewer than 1 in 3 adults in their 20s have gotten vaccines.

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