The number of new cases of COVID-19 in Lincoln County dipped to 40 this week, down from 49 last week, as vaccinations for members of the general public 70 years and older continued at a LincolnHealth clinic in Boothbay Harbor.
According to Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention data current as of Tuesday, Feb. 2, since COVID-19 arrived in Lincoln County in mid-March, 496 residents have had the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus — 437 confirmed cases and 59 probable. Two Lincoln County residents have died of complications from COVID-19. Hospitalizations held steady this week at 15.
Lincoln County has the second-lowest total case count and the third-lowest case rate in the state, after Piscataquis and Waldo counties, at 144.4 per 10,000 people.
After accounting for 161 “completed isolations” and two deaths, the number of apparent active cases is up to 333, although this likely does not reflect the actual number of people currently sick with COVID-19.
The agency says that since Nov. 25, it has not been able to follow up on every identified case of COVID-19, therefore, the number of “completed isolations” is no longer being updated.
The Maine CDC’s ZIP code data shows that Boothbay, Boothbay Harbor, Damariscotta, Jefferson, New Harbor, Whitefield, and Wiscasset all saw new cases in the past week.
Wiscasset saw the biggest increase with 17 new cases, for a total of 75. Boothbay added one case for a total of 13, Boothbay Harbor added one case to move to 17, Damariscotta added four new cases for a total of 38, New Harbor jumped into the 6-19 case range, Jefferson added eight cases for a total of 39, and Whitefield saw one new case for a total of 46.
All other counts remain unchanged from last week.
John Martins, spokesperson for LincolnHealth, said by email that people 70 and older can now start the COVID-19 vaccination process by calling 877-780-7545 to schedule an appointment or talking to their primary care physician.
Martins said the biggest hurdle to vaccination is the uncertainty of the vaccine supply.
“The challenge we face, as others in the state do, is vaccine availability,” Martins wrote. “We cannot schedule vaccinations until we know the amount of vaccine we will receive.”
He said he expects the allocation of doses to decline over the next few weeks, but he will not know for certain until more vaccine is allocated on Thursday, Feb. 4.
Martins said that during the first week of vaccinations at the LincolnHealth clinic in the Boothbay Region YMCA’s Marylouise Tandy Cowan Fieldhouse, which opened Jan. 25, 990 first doses were administered. He said that LincolnHealth expects to administer 460 first doses to people 70 and older and 150 second doses to health care workers and other hospital staff during the week of Monday, Feb. 1.
The Moderna vaccine that LincolnHealth has been using requires a booster shot 28 days after the initial shot.
Last week, 219 doses were administered in Damariscotta, 191 of which were second doses. Martins said that the clinic in Damariscotta, on the hospital’s Miles Campus, closed Friday, Jan. 29 to redirect staff to the Boothbay Harbor clinic.
Martins said that in any of the hospital’s facilities, visitors will be required to wear a surgical mask, which will be provided.
“If they have a cloth mask, we’ll simply ask them to put the surgical mask over the cloth one. This is a best practice in terms of containing COVID-19,” Martins wrote.
From Jan. 25-31, LincolnHealth performed 509 tests for COVID-19 with 22 positives, for a positivity rate of 4.32%.
The swab-and-send site offers drive-up testing by appointment from 8 a.m. to noon Wednesday and Thursday. To make an appointment, call the clinic at 563-4353.
According to the Maine CDC, the seven-day average positivity rate for the state is 4.6%, down from 5.5% last week.
According to the U.S. CDC, the nationwide positivity rate for “week 3,” ending Jan. 23, decreased from 11.9% to 11%.
During press briefings, Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine CDC, has been urging vigilance in combating the spread of COVID-19 so the vaccine will be as effective as possible.
“The more we can do to limit transmission now, the more effective our ongoing vaccination effort will be,” Shah has said. “By limiting nonessential interactions, wearing masks in public, staying at least 6 feet apart, and washing hands frequently, we help keep the virus away from vulnerable people until they can be vaccinated.”
State COVID-19 numbers
According to data current as of Tuesday, the Maine CDC has reported 40,233 COVID-19 cases in Maine, an increase of 2,063 from the week before. Of those cases, 7,918 are probable.
There have been 1,410 hospitalizations and 12,467 people have completed isolation. There have been 627 deaths so far from COVID-19 in Maine, including 65 in the last week. The statewide case rate is 300.6 per 10,000 people, up from 285.2 last week.
The number of active or “other” cases, 27,139, is an increase of 1,847 from a week before.