State health officials reported 620 new cases of COVID-19 and seven additional deaths on Wednesday, as the current wave of transmission shows little sign of abating.
The seven-day case average stands at about 459, which is virtually unchanged from this time last month. Maine continues to see high case totals even as other states have seen downward trends, although some of that is related to less testing in those states. Many southern states have seen testing slow down.
According to the most recent data from the US CDCs, the seven-day disease rate in Maine is 241 per 100,000 people, which ranks 14th among all states, but well above the national rate of 139 cases per 100,000 people.
Wednesday’s high comes on the heels of 882 cases reported for the three-day period Saturday to Monday, which was a slight drop from recent daily cases but in line with other weekend totals. In addition, 25 deaths were reported on Tuesday, though all but six of them occurred earlier this month and were added after a routine review of all death certificates.
Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 102,469 confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 in Maine and 1,154 people have died, according to data from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Both are among the lowest per capita of any state.
Hospital admissions fell slightly to 209 on Wednesday, including 74 in intensive care and 34 on ventilators, but they remain at a high level, even if the nationwide trend is downward. The seven-day average number of hospital admissions in the US is 46,777, according to the US CDC. That’s an 11 percent drop from the previous seven-day period and about half the average in early September, when the delta wave gripped most states.
Those hospitalized with COVID-19 are predominantly unvaccinated or vaccinated, but older and with other serious health conditions.
In Maine, health care providers are forced to adapt to not only a larger number of COVID patients, but also the ongoing staffing challenges.
on Tuesday, officials with MaineHealth, the parent organization of Portland’s Maine Medical Center and other hospitals, said about a third of all elective surgeries are delayed and there is a backlog of 1,500 procedures. Other hospitals have also temporarily cut back on some services.
“It’s going to get worse in terms of some of those delays. There is no easy solution or an easy end in sight,” says Dr. Joan Boomsma, Chief Medical Officer of MaineHealth.
Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah will hold a media briefing at 2 p.m. on Wednesday.
As for vaccinations, the pace has accelerated in Maine this week as all three vaccines — Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson — have been approved for supplemental or booster doses.
As of Wednesday, Maine has administered 915,285 final doses of vaccine, accounting for 68.1 percent of all residents and 77.3 percent of eligible 12 and older residents. In addition, 78.99 8 people have received the third dose so far, according to the CDC.
Next week, the Pfizer vaccine could be approved for children ages 5 to 11.
While Maine’s overall vaccination rate is high, there are still areas of the state with high numbers of unvaccinated individuals.
This story is being updated