The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday reported 402 cases of the novel coronavirus and 11 deaths, bringing the toll of Maine’s ongoing surge ever higher as a second vaccine has been cleared for use.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a vaccine from Moderna on Friday, clearing the way for millions of additional doses. But Maine officials say their federal counterparts have created confusion in the rollout of the earlier Pfizer vaccine, which has arrived in smaller numbers of doses than expected.
Maine is still breaking unwanted records in case numbers, hospitalizations and deaths. The state’s seven-day average of daily new cases was 449 on Saturday, down slightly from a record high on Friday after new daily cases reached 616 on Wednesday. Maine added more than 3,100 cases and recorded 35 deaths of people with COVID-19 over the past week. The surge appears to be accelerating; the week before, Maine saw 2,000 new cases and 23 deaths.
Maine’s cumulative cases rose to 18,739 on Saturday, of which 16,266 have been confirmed by testing and 2,473 are considered probable cases of COVID-19.
Two hundred ninety-two people have died with COVID-19 since the pandemic began in Maine, and 10,766 have recovered from the disease. Maine had 7,681 active cases on Saturday, compared to 4,886 a week ago and 2,907 a week before that.
Information about the people reported Saturday to have died wasn’t immediately available from the CDC.
A week after the approval of the first vaccine, from Pfizer, Maine is still struggling to vaccinate all of its front-line health care workers and long-term care residents. The state had put together an ambitious plan to vaccinate the vast majority of the population within weeks, but doses have been slow to come.
Officials from Operation Warp Speed, the Trump Administration’s vaccine program, said last week that Maine will receive about 8,700 doses of the Pfizer vaccine this coming week, a 40 percent reduction from expected numbers. Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine CDC, said the delay had forced public officials to “opt not to activate another phase” of their vaccination schedule for want of doses.
Around the country, there likely won’t be enough doses for the general population until the spring, NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins told The Associated Press this week.
Meanwhile, four Maine hospitals hit record highs of COVID-19 inpatients. Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor had an average of 26.6 inpatients for the week ending Thursday, joining MaineGeneral in Augusta, Mid Coast in Brunswick and York Hospital, all of which set inpatient records.
County by county in Maine since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been 2,131 coronavirus cases in Androscoggin, 401 in Aroostook, 5,690 in Cumberland, 384 in Franklin, 472 in Hancock, 1,391 in Kennebec, 294 in Knox, 234 in Lincoln, 841 in Oxford, 1,520 in Penobscot, 89 in Piscataquis, 287 in Sagadahoc, 625 in Somerset, 334 in Waldo, 290 in Washington, and 3,372 in York.
By age, 15.1 percent of patients were under 20, while 17.4 percent were in their 20s, 13.8 percent were in their 30s, 12.7 percent were in their 40s, 14.9 percent were in their 50s, 11.8 percent were in their 60s, 7.7 percent were in their 70s, and 6.7 percent were 80 or older.
Women still make up a slight majority of cases, which grew to 52 percent this week after holding near 51 percent during the summer and fall.
Updated hospital capacity data weren’t yet available on Saturday morning. On Friday, Maine hospitals had 177 patients with COVID-19, of whom 46 were in intensive care and 15 were on ventilators. The state had 82 intensive care unit beds available of a total 385, and 233 ventilators available of 315. There were also 444 alternative ventilators.
Around the world on Saturday morning, there were 75.7 million known cases of COVID-19 and close to 1.7 million deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. The United States had 17.4 million cases and over 313,000 deaths.
This story will be updated.