In this Dec. 11, 2020, file photo, a man wears a mask while walking on Park Street in Portland. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

December has now tied November as Maine’s deadliest month in the coronavirus pandemic, with 82 people succumbing to the virus so far and with the virus still surging to record levels as eight days still remain until January — meaning the last month of 2020 will likely go out as the state’s deadliest yet.

December is on track to earn that dubious distinction as new daily infections continued a sharp climb that began in late October and COVID-19 hospitalizations have also been reaching new peaks. At least 311 Mainers have died after testing positive for the virus since the March start of the pandemic.

Before November, April and May had been the deadliest months, when 51 and 37 people succumbed to the virus respectively as COVID-19 aggressively hit nursing homes. As of halfway through this month, 165 residents of long-term care facilities had died from COVID-19, accounting for a majority of Maine’s virus deaths.

If anything, the climb seems to be accelerating, as Maine topped 500 new daily cases for the first time last week, then 600 the very next day. On Wednesday, the state broke 700, with 753 new coronavirus cases.

That means that more deaths are likely on the way as the new cases seriously sicken people.

Health experts, including Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Nirav Shah, have urged Mainers to wear masks and avoid lengthy gatherings with people from outside their households this winter to stop the virus from spreading.

Shah recently noted that Maine is “squarely seeing the effects” of coronavirus transmission around the Thanksgiving holiday three weeks ago, an ominous portent now that two other large national holidays, Christmas and New Year’s, will be celebrated in the coming days.

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