Another six Mainers have died as health officials on Thursday reported 735 new coronavirus cases across the state.
Thursday’s report brings the total number of coronavirus cases in Maine to 21,226,according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s up from 20,491 on Wednesday.
Of those, 18,258 have been confirmed positive, while 2,968 were classified as “probable cases,” the Maine CDC reported.
A woman in her 90s from Aroostook County, three women in their 80s from Oxford County, a man in his 70s from Penobscot County and a woman in her 80s from York County have succumbed to the virus, bringing the statewide death toll to 317. Nearly all deaths have been in Mainers over age 60.
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Maine’s seven-day average for new coronavirus cases is 478, up from 460 a day ago, up from 434.3 a week ago and up from 206.6 a month ago.
Thursday’s report marked the second time when new cases rose above 700 in Maine and the seventh time in the past 10 days when they rose above 400. Maine saw new cases rise above 700 for the first time on Wednesday.
The latest surge in new cases may be in part due to Maine CDC investigators clearing a backlog in cases, the agency’s director, Nirav Shah, said Wednesday. Despite the record-breaking numbers Maine has seen in recent days, Shah noted that virus transmission might be stabilizing.
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.
As of Thursday, 13,089 Mainers have been vaccinated against COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus.
So far, 1,015 Mainers have been hospitalized at some point with COVID-19. Of those, 179 people are currently hospitalized, with 41 in critical care and 16 on ventilators.
Meanwhile, 39 more Mainers have recovered from the coronavirus, bringing total reported recoveries to 11,078. That means there are at least 9,831 active confirmed and “probable” cases in the state, which is up from 9,141 on Wednesday.
Maine CDC data likely underestimate the true number of recoveries as investigators have struggled to keep up with the surge in virus transmission, making it difficult with them to follow up with previous cases to confirm recoveries. Instead, the Maine CDC is just releasing data on those recoveries directly reported to it. The underreported recoveries also affect the estimated number of likely active cases across the state.
A majority of the cases — 12,456 — 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 1,122,739 negative test results out of 1,149,642 overall. Nearly 2.3 percent of all tests have come back positive, Maine CDC data show.
The coronavirus has hit hardest in Cumberland County, where 6,313 cases have been reported and where the bulk of virus deaths — 90 — have been concentrated. Other cases have been reported in Androscoggin (2,391), Aroostook (477), Franklin (435), Hancock (497), Kennebec (1,586), Knox (325), Lincoln (272), Oxford (1,032), Penobscot (1,822), Piscataquis (103), Sagadahoc (340), Somerset (684), Waldo (362), Washington (331) and York (4,257) counties. Information about where an additional two cases were reported wasn’t immediately available.
As of Thursday morning, the coronavirus had sickened 18,466,231 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 326,232 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine.