The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported 214 new coronavirus cases and five additional deaths Saturday, ending a week when Mainers flocked to a new vaccine registry and a new COVID-19 variant was detected in the state.
Health officials on Friday reported the first case of a Brazilian variant, found in a Franklin County resident with no recent travel history, indicating the variant is likely already in the community. And earlier in the week, a statewide vaccination registry recorded more than 30,000 registrations in just a few days.
Cumulative COVID-19 cases in Maine rose to 49,653 on Saturday. Of those, 38,221 have been confirmed through testing and 11,432 are considered probable COVID-19 cases. The seven-day average of new cases per day was 194.4 on Saturday.
Seven hundred thirty-six people have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began in Maine. The Maine CDC released generalized information on the five people who died Saturday, without correlation by county, age or gender. Three were from Kennebec County and one from Androscoggin and Piscataquis. Three were women and two were men. One was 40 years old, two 60 years old, one 70 years old, and one 80 years old or older.
Saturday’s case count was down from Friday, when Maine had its highest total number of cases since late February: 253. But it was the fourth consecutive day of more than 200 new cases.
Cumberland and York counties saw the highest growth in cases since the previous Saturday, with 284 and 294 cases, respectively. Penobscot County was next, with 182 over the past week, and Androscoggin and Kennebec counties were not far behind.
When a new variant of COVID-19 is detected in Maine, the state CDC conducts a strict contact tracing program to see where it may have come from. The Franklin County resident infected with the Brazilian variant had not recently traveled, indicating that it is already spreading within the community.
Immunologists have raised concerns about this variant because it appears to be resistant to COVID-19 antibodies, meaning that people who have already had the disease can more easily become re-infected. Many of the variants of COVID-19 are also more contagious.
The “soft rollout” of the Maine-wide immunization registration system on Tuesday drew more than 30,000 registrations in the first few days. The system, designed by the same company that put together California’s massive registry center, went live at vaccinateme.maine.gov early last week.
Maine’s new registration system will not replace the registration and scheduling systems already run by medical providers such as Northern Light Health and MaineHealth, a Maine CDC official said. However, some providers said they planned to eventually switch to the state system.
Main residents age 50 and older are now eligible for vaccinations, and all residents age 16 and older will be on April 19.
As of Saturday, 404,818 Main residents had received a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 250,588 had received their final dose. Of Maine’s population of 1.3 million, 30.12 percent have received their first dose, according to statistics from the Maine CDC.
County by county as of Saturday, there were 5,209 coronavirus cases in Androscoggin, 1,387 in Aroostook, 13,779 in Cumberland, 976 in Franklin, 1,025 in Hancock, 4,204 in Kennebec, 795 in Knox, 647 in Lincoln, 2,387 in Oxford, 4,519 in Penobscot , 377 in Piscataquis, 962 in Sagadahoc, 1,353 in Somerset, 689 in Waldo, 760 in Washington and 10,475 in York.
By age, 16.2% of the patients were under 20 years old, while 18.1% were 20 years old, 14.4% were 30 years old, 13.2% were 40 years old, 15.2 % were 50 years old, 11.5% were 60 years old, 6.2% were in their 70s, and 5.2 percent were 80 or older.
Of the 78 COVID-19 patients in Maine hospitals on Saturday, 26 were in intensive care and eight were on ventilators. The state had 103 intensive care unit beds available out of a total of 368, and 248 ventilators available out of 319. There were also 446 alternative ventilators.
Worldwide as of late Saturday afternoon, there were 126.4 million known COVID-19 cases and more than 2.77 million deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. The United States had 30.2 million cases and 548,765 deaths.
The body of a Warren fisherman hauled out of Port Clyde harbor