State health officials on Tuesday reported 1,008 new cases of COVID-19 over a three-day period along with nine additional deaths from the viral disease.
The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention does not provide updated case data on Sunday and Monday, so the 1,008 cases reflects new infections that were reviewed by staff over the weekend and on Monday. The agency has also been struggling to keep pace with the surge in test results requiring review. As a result, Tuesday’s total includes cases reported to the Maine CDC back as far as September 17.
But Maine’s seven-day average of new cases continues to climb upward, driven largely by new infections of the more contagious delta variant among unvaccinated people. The seven-day average of new cases stood at 523 on Tuesday compared to 444 for the week ending September 14 and weekly averages that were in the teens and twenties in early-July before the current surge.
With the nine additional deaths deaths reported on Tuesday, Maine’s total COVID-related deaths rose to 1,022 for the pandemic. To date, the Maine CDC has tracked 88,197 confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 since March 2020.
Hospitalizations were still high on Tuesday but could soon begin trending downward if Maine follows the national trend. There were 218 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide on Monday — down from 225 on Monday and a record-high of 235 on Saturday — while 67 people were in intensive care units and 34 were connected to ventilators. There were 50 available critical care beds on Tuesday out of 332 statewide.
Hospitalizations have started declining in many of the states that were hardest hit by the delta variant. After increasing for much of the summer, the seven-day average of daily new hospitalizations in the U.S. declined by 14.4 percent to 9,636 per day for the week of Sept. 8-14, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Case counts also declined 17 percent nationally over the past week.
Maine continues to have among the lowest COVID-19 case and death rates in the nation, although the state has consistently had among the highest transmission rates in New England during the current surge. Maine is also among the most heavily vaccinated states.
As of Tuesday, 73.5 percent of eligible Mainers had received either both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or the single-shot vaccine produced by Johnson & Johnson while 15,157 additional or booster doses had been administered in the state. Expanding out to the entire population — including children under 12 who are not yet eligible for inoculation — and Maine’s full vaccination rate falls to 64.8 percent.
This story will be updated.