Maine reported 182 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, but the number in Cumberland County is declining.

Cumberland County, which has the biggest population and highest vaccination rate in Maine, had its risk designation lowered from “substantial” to “moderate” Thursday, based on thresholds set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cumberland County recorded 26 of the 182 cases Thursday; Penobscot County had the highest number at 36 cases, followed by York County with 30.

Maine also reported 12 additional deaths. The one-day spike stems from a state review of death certificates to catch COVID-linked fatalities that were previously missed. Eleven of the 12 were from reviews of deaths that occurred between January and April, according to Robert Long, Maine CDC spokesman.

Since the pandemic began, Maine has recorded 73,269 cases of COVID-19 and 921 deaths. Also on Thursday, U.S. Sen. Angus King, an independent from Maine, announced that he has contracted COVID-19. His is a breakthrough case, as King is fully vaccinated. He reported mild symptoms.

Androscoggin, Cumberland, Franklin, Kennebec and Sagadahoc counties were designated as moderate risk of virus transmission Thursday, while Maine’s remaining counties were considered substantial or high risk. Moderate risk is less than 50 cases per 100,000 residents over a seven-day period, substantial is from 50 to 99 cases per 100,000, and high risk is 100 or more cases per 100,000.

Cumberland County’s case rate over a seven-day period was 46.33 per 100,000 on Thursday, down from a recent peak of 70.86 on Aug. 9. The statewide seven-day average was 166.9.

The current surge in cases is being driven overwhelmingly by unvaccinated people. Cumberland County has the highest vaccination rate in the state, with 73.1 percent fully vaccinated, compared to a statewide average of 61.75 percent. Somerset County is the least vaccinated county in Maine, at 49.37 percent fully vaccinated.

Long, the Maine CDC spokesman, said the agency hasn’t yet drawn any conclusions about COVID-19 trends in Cumberland County.

“In general, vaccination reduces the risk of virus transmission, but we cannot at this time assign a specific cause to the change in Cumberland County’s seven-day average case rate,” Long said.

Since vaccines became available in Maine, there have been 37,993 cases of COVID-19 and 863 of them – slightly over 2 percent – have been breakthrough cases in fully vaccinated people. The remaining cases are in unvaccinated people.

Of the 852 people hospitalized since vaccines were available, 35, or about 4 percent, have been fully vaccinated. And of the 237 deaths in that time, 14 have been people who were fully vaccinated, or nearly 6 percent, although each had other health conditions that contributed, according to state health officials.

The latest spike also comes as many Maine schools are set to reopen in less than two weeks. It could prove challenging since the vaccination rate for those between the ages of 12-19 is only about 51 percent and students under the age of 12 haven’t been approved for the vaccines.

Currently, there are 93 people hospitalized for COVID-19 in Maine, including 44 in critical care.


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