Maine marked the grimmest milestone yet in the coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday when the state saw the largest increase in the death toll and another record-high number of new cases.
A dozen people across five counties succumbed to COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus, while 258 new cases were reported across the state, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
“These are not the kind of records we want to be setting,” Maine CDC Director Nirav Shah said of the grim records in a Tuesday morning tweet.
Tuesday’s report brings the total number of coronavirus cases in Maine to 10,799. Of those, 9,698 have been confirmed positive, while 1,101 were classified as “probable cases,” the Maine CDC reported.
The agency revised Monday’s cumulative total to 10,541, down from 10,544, meaning there was a net increase of 255 over the previous day’s report, state data show. As the Maine CDC continues to investigate previously reported cases, some are determined to have not been the coronavirus, or coronavirus cases not involving Mainers. Those are removed from the state’s cumulative total. The Bangor Daily News reports on the number of new cases reported to the Maine CDC in the previous 24 hours, rather than the increase of daily cumulative cases.
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New cases were reported in Androscoggin (20), Aroostook (11), Cumberland (48), Franklin (5), Kennebec (24), Knox (5), Lincoln (7), Oxford (21), Penobscot (52), Piscataquis (3), Sagadahoc (4), Somerset (2), Waldo (3), Washington (3) and York (45) counties, state data show. Information about where an additional five cases were reported wasn’t immediately available.
Only one county — Hancock — reported no new cases.
The seven-day average for new coronavirus cases is 207.9, up from 205.7 a day ago, up from 190.9 a week ago and up from 37.4 a month ago.
A woman in her 90s from Androscoggin County; a man in his 80s from Franklin County; two men and a woman in their 70s, a man in his 60s, and a man in his 80s from Somerset County; a man in his 60s from Washington County; a man in his 80s and two women and a man in their 70s from York County died from the virus, Maine CDC spokesperson Robert Long said Tuesday. That brings the statewide death toll to 189.
It’s the highest number of deaths reported on a single day since June 1, when only five Mainers died from the virus. Not all deaths reported Tuesday occurred in the past 24 hours, but those newly confirmed to have involved the coronavirus. Nearly all deaths have been in Mainers over age 60.
Tuesday’s report smashed the previous record-high for new cases — 247 — set less than two weeks ago, Maine CDC data show. It’s the fifth time over the past 10 days with more than 200 new cases reported.
That comes as health officials have cautioned Mainers about family gatherings over the Thanksgiving holiday, warning that the intimate dinners could further virus transmission during a period when the state is grappling with a weeks-long surge. Already, there are signs that Mainers could be scaling back their holiday plans, with the Maine Turnpike Authority forecasting that traffic may fall as much as 14 percent, compared with last Thanksgiving.
Health officials have warned Mainers that “forceful and widespread” community transmission is being seen throughout the state. Every county is seeing high community transmission, which the Maine CDC defines as a case rate of 16 or more cases per 10,000 people.
There are two criteria for establishing community transmission: at least 10 confirmed cases and that at least 25 percent of those are not connected to either known cases or travel.
There are now 88 known cases of coronavirus among more than 30,000 University of Maine System students, faculty and staff, according to UMS spokesperson Dan Demeritt.
Of the 88 cases reported, 28 are among residence hall students.
There are 75 cases with 10 new cases involving students — three commuter and seven residential — at the University of Maine. One employee has been released from isolation; Three cases at University of Maine at Augusta; Three cases at University of Maine Farmington — one new case involving a commuter student; One case at University of Maine at Machias; Four cases at University of Maine at Presque Isle; and two cases at University of Southern Maine after five commuter students and one residential student were released from isolation.
The only two schools in the UMS with no active cases of coronavirus are University of Maine at Fort Kent and University of Maine Law School.
There are now 17 Pre-K- 12 schools with open outbreaks as of Thursday. In the past 30 days, there have been 259 reported cases of COVID-19 with 232 confirmed positive and 27 reported as “probable cases.”
So far, 662 Mainers have been hospitalized at some point with COVID-19. Of those, 105 people are currently hospitalized, with 43 in critical care and nine on ventilators.
Meanwhile, 246 more people have recovered from the coronavirus, bringing total recoveries to 8,232. That means there are 2,378 active confirmed and “probable” cases in the state, which is down from 2,381 on Monday.
A majority of the cases — 6,434 — have been in Mainers under age 50, while more cases have been reported in women than men, according to the Maine CDC.
As of Tuesday, there have been 836,208 negative test results out of 849,533 overall. Just over 1.5 percent of all tests have come back positive, Maine CDC data show.
The coronavirus has hit hardest in Cumberland County, where 3,647 cases have been reported and where the bulk of virus deaths — 71 — have been concentrated. Other cases have been reported in Androscoggin (1,410), Aroostook (106), Franklin (201), Hancock (214), Kennebec (719), Knox (198), Lincoln (146), Oxford (313), Penobscot (719), Piscataquis (38), Sagadahoc (140), Somerset (411), Waldo (216), Washington (181) and York (2,132) counties. Information about where an additional eight cases were reported wasn’t immediately available.
As of Tuesday evening, the coronavirus had sickened 12,540,696 people in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as caused 259,256 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University of Medicine.