Maine reported 738 new cases of COVID-19 and two deaths Friday as the state continues to work its way through a backlog of positive test results.

The daily report brings the cumulative number of cases since the start of the pandemic to 90,727. In all, 1,024 people have died.

The state has reported some of its highest single-day caseloads of the pandemic recently, but a backlog of positive tests during the delta variant surge means the daily numbers have been a reflection of cases reported over multiple days. Friday’s cases, for example, were initially reported to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention over a period dating back to Sept. 21.

The most recent deaths were one man in his 70s and another older than 80. One was a resident of Penobscot County and the other of Waldo County.

Maine’s infection rate of 42 cases per day for every 100,000 residents during the past seven days is higher than every other Northeastern and mid-Atlantic state except Delaware, which has a rate of 47 cases per day, according to the Brown School of Public Health Global Epidemics tracker. The nationwide rate is 34 new cases daily for every 100,000 residents over the past seven days.

Maine hospitals were caring for 211 COVID-19 patients Friday, down from 226 Thursday and a pandemic-high of 235 last Saturday. The number of those patients in intensive care units dropped from 71 on Thursday to 67 on Friday. Of those, 27 were breathing with the assistance of ventilators.

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The seven-day average of daily new cases is 593, compared to 485 two weeks ago.

Maine is also seeing an increase in cases and outbreaks in schools.

Over the last 30 days, schools have reported 2,578 COVID cases and 108 outbreaks. The outbreaks represent about 15 percent of schools but are not necessarily a reflection of in-school transmission. Officials continue to say that full in-person learning can take place safely as long as schools continue to adhere to health and safety protocols such as universal indoor masking and vaccinations for those who are eligible.

A statewide vaccination mandate for hospital staff and many other health care workers took effect Friday, although Gov. Janet Mills has said enforcement will be delayed until Oct. 29 to give workers more time to get their shots.

The mandate is being challenged in court, but a federal judge has not yet issued an order in a lawsuit seeking to block the mandate.

Around the U.S., reports of new cases have been falling steadily as much of the country moves past the late summer surge. On Friday, the U.S. reported 116,090 new cases and had a seven-day daily average of 111,210. That’s down from a seven-day average of 150,376 two weeks ago, according to The New York Times.

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