Maine health officials reported 944 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday and 14 additional deaths, continuing one of the heaviest stretches of virus transmission on record with Thanksgiving less than a week away.

Over the last three days alone, there have been 2,919 new cases, and the seven-day average now stands at 666, a new record. The state already has set records this week for the highest cases reported on a single day, the highest average positive test rate and the most individuals hospitalized.

Two weeks ago, the daily cases average was 486. This time last month, it was 524. Since the pandemic began, there have been 115,009 confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 and 1,268 deaths, according to data from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The Maine CDC also adjusted its vaccination data on Friday because some hospitals had been reporting booster shots as final doses. The adjustment decreased the state’s overall vaccination rate roughly 2 percentage points to 68.2 percent.

Despite the recent surge, both cases and deaths remain among the lowest per capita of any state. Ten of the 14 deaths reported Friday were the result of a periodic review of death certificates and occurred between Oct. 27 and Nov. 11.

The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 also ticked back up slightly on Friday, to 278. Of those, 81 are in critical care and 32 are on ventilators. This is the first time the number of critical care patients has been above 80 since Oct. 28. Hospitalizations have been increasing most in areas with low vaccination rates, and have been putting a strain on health care systems that already are struggling.

Over the last two weeks, the number of people hospitalized has increased by 24 percent.

Maine has been seeing high case numbers for weeks, and they have started to rise again across the country after declining for most of September and October.

According to the U.S. CDC, the seven-day average number of cases reported is 88,482, up 26 percent from 70,400 cases on average two weeks ago. Hospitalizations had been dropping steadily since early September, when the daily average was around 93,000, but have leveled off of late and are hovering around 40,000. Deaths are still averaging about 1,000 per day across the U.S.

Maine’s seven-day case rate of 332 per 100,000 ranks 14th among all states and is significantly higher than the national rate of 187 cases per 100,000 people, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vermont and New Hampshire are among the states that rank higher than Maine.

Vaccinations, meanwhile, continue at a steady pace in Maine, and that is expected to pick up following Wednesday’s announcement from Gov. Janet Mills that anyone 18 or older can now get a booster, as long as it has been at least six months after their final dose of the original Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or two months after the one-dose Johnson & Johnson version. The federal government on Friday opened up vaccine boosters to all adults nationwide.

The state also continues to expand vaccinations for 5- to 11-year-olds, who became eligible this month. So far, 18,471 children in that age range have gotten first doses, more than half of them in Cumberland and York counties.

Mills visited a vaccine clinic for 5- to 11-year-olds on Friday morning at Morse High School in Bath to thank teachers, staff and employees with MaineHealth, which was conducting the clinic.

Over the last week, daily vaccinations have averaged close to 9,000, a rate not seen since mid-May. In all, Maine has administered 916,276 final doses of vaccine, which represents 68.2 percent of all residents.

The latest vaccination rate posted by the state decreased from earlier this week because some vaccine providers had been reporting booster doses as final doses to the state in recent weeks, Maine CDC spokesman Robert Long said Friday. As a result of the data correction, the number of booster doses increased substantially Friday, to 232,053, or about 22 percent of those eligible.

More and more, the data shows that the virus is spreading most heavily in counties with lower vaccination rates. Conversely, higher vaccinated counties are not being hit as hard.

Over the last 14 days, the counties with the highest case rates have been Franklin, Androscoggin, Oxford and Somerset. All four are in the bottom five for vaccination rates. Cumberland County has the state’s highest rate of fully vaccinated residents and has seen the lowest level of transmission over the last two weeks.


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