State reports 620 new cases of COVID-19, 7 additional deaths – Press Herald

State health officials reported 620 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and seven additional deaths as the current wave of transmission shows few signs of receding.

The seven-day case average stands at about 459, which is virtually unchanged from this time last month. Maine continues to see high case totals even as other states have seen downward trends, although some of that is tied to less testing in those states. Many southern states have seen testing slow way down.

According to the most recent data from the U.S. CDC’s, Maine seven-day case rate average is 241 per 100,000 people, which ranks 14th among all states but is well above the national rate of 139 cases per 100,000 people.

Wednesday’s high total comes on the heels of 882 cases reported for the three-day period from Saturday through Monday, which was a slight decrease from recent daily cases but in line with other weekend totals. In addition, 25 deaths were reported Tuesday, although all but six occurred earlier this month and were added following a routine review of all death certificates.

Since the pandemic began, there have been 102,469 confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 in Maine and 1,154 people have died, according to data from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Both remain among the lowest per capita of any state.

Hospitalizations declined slightly Wednesday to 209, including 74 in critical care and 34 on ventilators, but they remain at an elevated level even though the national trend has been downward. The seven-day average number of hospitalizations in the U.S. is 46,777, according to the U.S. CDC. That’s a decrease of 11 percent over the previous seven-day period and roughly half the average seen in early September when the delta surge was gripping most states.

Those hospitalized with COVID-19 have overwhelmingly been unvaccinated or vaccinated but older and with other serious health conditions.

In Maine, health care providers have been forced to adapt to not only an increased number of COVID patients but ongoing workforce challenges.

On Tuesday, officials with MaineHealth, the parent organization of Portland’s Maine Medical Center and other hospitals, said roughly one-third of all elective surgeries are being delayed, and there is a backlog of 1,500 procedures. Other hospitals also have cut back on some services temporarily.

“It will get worse in terms of some of those delays. There’s not an easy solution, or easy end in sight,” said Dr. Joan Boomsma, MaineHealth’s chief medical officer.

Maine CDC director Dr. Nirav Shah is scheduled to host a media briefing at 2 p.m. on Wednesday.

As for vaccinations, the pace has accelerated in Maine this week now that all three vaccines – Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson – have been approved for additional, or booster, doses.

As of Wednesday, Maine has administered 915,285 final doses of vaccine, which accounts for 68.1 percent of all residents and 77.3 percent of those 12 and older who are eligible. Additionally, 78,99 8people have gotten third doses thus far, according to the CDC.

By next week, the Pfizer vaccine could be approved for children ages 5 to 11.

Although Maine’s overall vaccination rate is high, there are still pockets of the state with large numbers of unvaccinated individuals.

This story will be updated 

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