Maine CDC reports low coronavirus numbers during testing break

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday reported a small rise in coronavirus cases, and one death, that more likely reflects a vacation for testing staff than the overall trend of soaring daily case numbers and hospitalizations.

The Maine CDC reported 22 new cases on Saturday, after the state lab closed for Thanksgiving. Public health authorities did not report new case numbers on Friday.

In the last three weeks, Maine has seen more than 200 new cases on 10 separate days. Hospitalizations also have increased dramatically, up to 119 patients statewide on Friday. New hospital data weren’t yet available early Saturday morning.

Maine’s cumulative cases rose to 11,288 on Saturday. Of those cumulative cases, 10,125 have been confirmed by testing and 1,163 are considered probable cases of COVID-19.

One hundred ninety-one people have died with COVID-19 in Maine, and 8,822 have recovered from the disease. Maine had 2,275 active cases on Saturday.

The person reported Saturday to have died was a Kennebec County man in his 60s, the Maine CDC said.

Saturday’s low case count brought down the 7-day average of new daily cases to 167.4 from Friday’s 221.6.

In response to the weekslong surge in cases, Gov. Janet Mills this week extended Maine’s state of emergency into late December. She also asked Mainers to avoid traveling for the holidays and follow virus precautions such as wearing masks and maintaining physical distance from others.

The governor also asked for more federal funds to support Maine’s coronavirus prevention and relief efforts. Congressional leaders have signaled that they may consider a relief bill now that national elections are over.

Maine retail outlets observed a comparatively quiet Black Friday this year, avoiding midnight openings and “doorbuster” in-person-only deals that traditionally have drawn large – and sometimes rowdy – crowds.

Online shopping had already been cutting into brick-and-mortar retail, and the danger of coronavirus transmission added incentive to avoid large gatherings. Around dawn on Friday, only a few stores in the Maine Mall area had shoppers waiting in line outside, and most parking lots were empty.

County by county in Maine since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been 1,454 coronavirus cases in Androscoggin, 129 in Aroostook, 3,730 in Cumberland, 210 in Franklin, 236 in Hancock, 757 in Kennebec, 203 in Knox, 151 in Lincoln, 326 in Oxford, 820 in Penobscot, 41 in Piscataquis, 149 in Sagadahoc, 434 in Somerset, 225 in Waldo, 189 in Washington, and 2,231 in York.

By age, 13 percent of patients were under 20, while 18.4 percent were in their 20s, 15 percent were in their 30s, 13.1 percent were in their 40s, 15.4 percent were in their 50s, 11.6 percent were in their 60s, 7.2 percent were in their 70s, and 6.2 percent were 80 or older.

Women still make up a slight majority of cases, at just over 51 percent.

Updated hospital capacity information wasn’t yet available Saturday morning. On Friday, Maine’s hospitals had 119 patients with COVID-19, of whom 51 were in intensive care and 15 were on ventilators. The state had 112 intensive care unit beds available of a total 385, and 236 ventilators available of 317. There were also 444 alternative ventilators.

Around the world on Saturday, there were 61.7 million known cases of COVID-19 and more than 1.4 million deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. The United States had over 13 million cases and close to 265,000 deaths.

This story will be updated.

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