A health care worker administers a COVID-19 test at a Maine Medical Partners drive-in clinic on St. John Street in Portland on Thursday Dec. 17, 2020. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

In what’s become a grim routine since late October, Maine yet again broke its record high for new coronavirus cases on Thursday with 619 more reported across the state and another nine deaths.

Thursday’s report brings the total number of coronavirus cases in Maine to 17,901. Of those, 15,576 have been confirmed positive, while 2,325 were classified as “probable cases,” according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The agency revised Wednesday’s cumulative total to 17,282, down from 17,311, meaning there was an increase of 590 over the previous day’s report. 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.

A man in his 60s from Aroostook County; a woman in her 70s from Cumberland County; a man in his 50s from Kennebec County; two women in their 70s, a woman in her 80s, a man in his 50s, and a man in his 80s from Oxford County; and a woman in her 70s from York County have succumbed to the virus, bringing the statewide death toll to 276. Nearly all deaths have been in Mainers over age 60.

New cases were reported in Androscoggin (18), Aroostook (26), Cumberland (166), Franklin (10), Hancock (36), Kennebec (45), Knox (4), Lincoln (5), Oxford (45), Penobscot (55), Piscataquis (2), Sagadahoc (26), Somerset (17), Waldo (10), Washington (31) and York (114) counties, state data show. Information about where an additional nine cases were reported wasn’t immediately available.

The seven-day average for new coronavirus cases is 436.3, up from 405.7 a day ago, up from 336.3 a week ago and up from 188.3 a month ago.

Thursday’s dizzying high number of new cases shattered the previous record — 550 — set only a day earlier. It marks the seventh time in the past 10 days when Maine has seen new cases surge above 400 and the second above 500.

TRACKING THE CORONAVIRUS IN MAINE

Maine CDC Director Nirav Shah said Wednesday that this latest surge in infection is “squarely” the result of transmission as Mainers came together for the Thanksgiving holiday, mirroring large spikes seen elsewhere across the country. Shah warned that this surge “does not augur well” for the coming end-of-year holidays.

Shah said that it would be “most helpful” if Mainers could “stay in [their] pod” this winter as the Maine CDC grapples with the out-of-control spread.

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.

In the last 30 days, the total number of virus cases at K-12 schools has risen to 546. Of those, 439 have been confirmed positive, while 107 were classified as “probable cases,” according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

As of Thursday, 41 schools have open outbreaks with Sanford High School having the most cases at 10.

So far, 958 Mainers have been hospitalized at some point with COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus. Of those, 191 people are currently hospitalized, with 46 in critical care and 17 on ventilators.

Meanwhile, 38 more people have recovered from the coronavirus, bringing total recoveries to 10,688. That means there are 6,937 active confirmed and “probable” cases in the state, which is up from 6,394 on Wednesday.

A majority of the cases — 10,545 — have been in Mainers under age 50, while more cases have been reported in women than men, according to the Maine CDC.

As of Thursday, there have been 1,055,654 negative test results out of 1,079,545 overall. About 2.1 percent of all tests have come back positive, Maine CDC data show.

The coronavirus has hit hardest in Cumberland County, where 5,433 cases have been reported and where the bulk of virus deaths — 82 — have been concentrated. Other cases have been reported in Androscoggin (2,075), Aroostook (358), Franklin (365), Hancock (455), Kennebec (1,330), Knox (283), Lincoln (213), Oxford (765), Penobscot (1,444), Piscataquis (83), Sagadahoc (256), Somerset (598), Waldo (319), Washington (264) and York (3,647) counties. Information about where an additional 13 cases were reported wasn’t immediately available.

As of Thursday morning, the coronavirus had sickened 17,011,532 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 308,098 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine.

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