The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday reported 159 cases of the novel coronavirus and one additional death, as hospitalizations, active cases and most other vital statistics spiraled across the state.
Maine set a new record for daily cases on Friday: 243. That news was accompanied by three deaths, and 66 hospitalizations around the state, as of late Friday morning.
The rise in hospitalizations is especially concerning because, left uncontrolled, it threatens to overwhelm medical facilities and cause unnecessary deaths, public health experts say. As case numbers surged here and across the country, Gov. Janet Mills this week reinstated the requirement that Massachusetts visitors receive negative COVID-19 tests or quarantine for 14 days after entering Maine.
Maine’s cumulative cases rose to 8,791 on Saturday, a net increase of 152 cases since Friday. The previous Saturday, Oct. 31, there were 6,715 cases, meaning Maine added close to 1,000 cases in one week. Hospitalizations have also increased dramatically – from 17 on Oct. 30 to 42 on Saturday.
The person reported Saturday to have died was a York County woman in her 80s, the CDC said.
The reported number of new cases on Saturday – 159 – is less than the difference in daily totals because the Maine CDC revises its numbers of cumulative total cases based on how many “probable” cases later test negative, and on the results of contact tracing investigations.
Of those 8,791 cumulative cases, 7,882 have been confirmed by testing and 909 are considered probable cases of COVID-19.
One hundred sixty-three people have died with COVID-19 in Maine, and 6,597 have recovered from the disease. Maine had 2,031 active cases on Saturday, an increase of more than 500 over the past week.
Maine’s daily new cases are not the only numbers to hit record highs in recent weeks; hospitalizations have too. On Friday, Maine had 66 patients with COVID-19 in its hospitals, more than the peak of 60 in May.
The geographic distribution of hospitalizations is different this time, however. Whereas last spring’s surge filled southern Maine hospitals, the current surge is driven by hospitalizations in central and eastern Maine.
The sharp rise in cases has stretched the Maine CDC’s ability to trace contacts of infected people, a critical tool to contain the virus. The public health agency recently expanded its number of tracers to 135, however, and says the program is not yet at its limit.
Androscoggin County on Friday became the latest Maine region to receive a heightened “yellow” risk designation for schools. Along with Knox, Franklin, Somerset and Washington counties, Androscoggin now is recommended to limit numbers of people in school buildings and restrict extracurricular activities such as school sports.
State officials are watching Cumberland, Hancock, Kennebec and York, as well.
County by county in Maine since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been 1,167 coronavirus cases in Androscoggin, 86 in Aroostook, 3,172 in Cumberland, 145 in Franklin, 165 in Hancock, 556 in Kennebec, 160 in Knox, 103 in Lincoln, 228 in Oxford, 475 in Penobscot, 23 in Piscataquis, 115 in Sagadahoc, 324 in Somerset, 192 in Waldo, 141 in Washington, and 1,738 in York.
By age, 12.8 percent of patients were under 20, while 17.8 percent were in their 20s, 15.2 percent were in their 30s, 13.2 percent were in their 40s, 15.7 percent were in their 50s, 11.5 percent were in their 60s, 7.4 percent were in their 70s, and 6.3 percent were 80 or older.
Women still make up a slight majority of cases, at just over 51 percent.
As of 11 a.m. on Friday, Maine’s hospitals had 66 patients with COVID-19, of whom 18 were in intensive care and six were on ventilators. The state had 92 intensive care unit beds available of a total 384, and 235 ventilators available of 315. There were also 444 alternative ventilators.
Around the world on Saturday, there were 53.4 million known cases of COVID-19 and more than 1.3 million deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. The United States had 10.7 million cases and over 244,000 deaths.
This story will be updated.