The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday reported 168 cases of the novel coronavirus and one additional death as health experts urged Mainers to take precautions and consider limiting holiday plans.
Maine’s seven-day average of daily new cases surged from 32.1 in mid-October to 192.3 on Saturday, prompting alarm among state officials responsible for controlling the pandemic.
“If we don’t do something different, nothing is going to change,” Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine CDC, said on Friday. “We will stay on this trajectory of increasing cases, which each passing day will make it harder and harder to put a lid on things.”
This past week, Gov. Janet Mills imposed a 9 p.m. closing time for restaurants, movie theaters, tasting rooms and casinos that began Friday and lasts until Dec. 6. In recent weeks, she has also reduced the maximum size of indoor gatherings, mandated mask-wearing in public places and pushed back the reopening of bars for indoor service.
Maine’s cumulative cases rose to 10,123 on Saturday, a net increase of 165 cases since Friday. The reported number of new cases on Saturday – 168 – is more than the difference in daily totals because the Maine CDC revises its numbers of cumulative cases based on how many “probable” cases later test negative, and on the results of contact tracing investigations.
Last Saturday, Maine had 8,791 cases, meaning it added more than 1,300 in one week.
Of Saturday’s 10,123 cumulative cases, 9,075 have been confirmed by testing and 1,048 are considered probable cases of COVID-19.
One hundred seventy-four people have died with COVID-19 in Maine, and 7,713 have recovered from the disease. Maine had 2,236 active cases on Saturday.
The person reported Saturday to have died was a man in his 70s from Cumberland County, the Maine CDC said.
Meanwhile, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Americans against traveling for Thanksgiving or spending the holiday with people outside their immediate households. The virus is surging not just in Maine, but around the country, which added 1 million cases in the past week.
If Thanksgiving gatherings do include family members from outside the hosts’ households – such as returning students or soldiers – then the CDC recommends meeting outdoors, if possible.
Back in Maine, the Mills administration on Friday moved York County back into the heightened “yellow” risk category for school reopening. Androscoggin, Franklin, Somerset and Washington counties also are designated yellow, meaning school officials there are urged to limit in-person learning and extracurricular activities such as sports.
Knox County, meanwhile, moved back to green from yellow.
The University of Maine System on Saturday reported 67 active cases of COVID-19 across its eight schools, 11 more total cases than on Friday. The university system reported 14 new cases in all, 10 of which were at the University of Maine in Orono.
Five residential students at UMaine in Orono tested positive for the coronavirus, as did five commuter students. The University of Maine at Augusta and the University of Southern Maine each reported two new cases among their students.
Across Maine’s public university system, there were 47 active cases at UMaine in Orono, 11 at USM, four at the University of Maine at Presque Isle, three at UMA, and one each at the University of Maine at Farmington and the University of Maine at Machias.
County by county in Maine since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been 1,327 coronavirus cases in Androscoggin, 94 in Aroostook, 3,488 in Cumberland, 192 in Franklin, 208 in Hancock, 657 in Kennebec, 182 in Knox, 132 in Lincoln, 278 in Oxford, 629 in Penobscot, 34 in Piscataquis, 128 in Sagadahoc, 397 in Somerset, 203 in Waldo, 178 in Washington, and 1,995 in York.
By age, 13.1 percent of patients were under 20, while 18.2 percent were in their 20s, 15.1 percent were in their 30s, 13.2 percent were in their 40s, 15.4 percent were in their 50s, 11.6 percent were in their 60s, 7.3 percent were in their 70s, and 6.1 percent were 80 or older.
Women still make up a slight majority of cases, at just over 51 percent.
Maine’s hospitals had 86 patients with COVID-19 on Saturday, of whom 41 were in intensive care and 11 were on ventilators. The state had 93 intensive care unit beds available of a total 374, and 248 ventilators available of 315. There were also 444 alternative ventilators.
Around the world on Saturday afternoon, there were 57.8 million known cases of COVID-19 and more than 1.3 million deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. The United States had 11.9 million cases and over 255,000 deaths.