The number of cases of COVID-19 in Lincoln County residents jumped by 51 over the past week — another new weekly high.
According to Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention data current as of Tuesday, Jan. 12, since COVID-19 arrived in Lincoln County in mid-March, 376 residents have had the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus — 333 confirmed cases and 43 probable. Thirteen people have been hospitalized with COVID-19, the same number as last week.
Lincoln County has the second-lowest total case count and the third-lowest case rate in the state, after Piscataquis and Waldo counties, at 109.5 per 10,000 people.
Because new positive COVID-19 tests are being received at a faster rate than the state agency is able to review them, the Maine CDC website says that “reported case numbers do not currently reflect the total number of people in Maine who have tested positive for COVID-19.”
After accounting for 154 “completed isolations” and two deaths of Lincoln County residents, the number of apparent active cases is 220, up from 177 last week, although this may 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has not been able to follow up on every identified case of COVID-19, therefore, the number of “completed isolations” is no longer being updated.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 Harbor, Damariscotta, Jefferson, Round Pond, Trevett, and Wiscasset saw new COVID-19 cases in the past week, with Trevett becoming the last ZIP code in the county to see a case.
Boothbay Harbor is up to 11 from 10 last week; Damariscotta saw six new cases for a total of 31; Jefferson saw three new cases for a total of 23; Round Pond moved into the range of six to 19; Trevett saw its first case or cases; and Wiscasset’s count increased by seven to 50.
No other counts have changed from last week.
The Maine CDC lists Newcastle and Waldoboro at 20-49 cases and Whitefield at 39.
Bristol, Bremen, Edgecomb, Nobleboro, and Walpole stayed at six to 19. Boothbay held at eight.
Alna, East Boothbay, New Harbor, Pemaquid, South Bristol, and Southport held in the range of one to five.
As vaccinations continue for health care workers, first responders, and residents of long-term care facilities, public health officials are 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,” Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine CDC, 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.”
John Martins, spokesperson for LincolnHealth, said by email that the Respiratory Care Clinic on the Miles Campus in Damariscotta has been fielding more calls about the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine to the public.
Martins said LincolnHealth is preparing to administer vaccinations to the public as soon as those doses are available, but it is unknown when those doses will arrive.
“We’ve been visiting potential sites that can allow for a significant number of doses to be delivered in the safest, most efficient environment,” Martins wrote. “We are confident that we will be ready to roll when the doses arrive and we’re able to begin vaccinating the public. We will not slow this process down.”
The state sets the priorities for who will receive the vaccine first.
“As of now, people 75 and older are first on the list, followed by people age 65 to 74 years old, then those 18 to 64 with high-risk medical conditions, like diabetes and heart disease,” Martins wrote.
Martins said it is important for people to know that vaccines can only be administered by appointment. Those who show up without an appointment will be sent away.
He said that close to 600 employees have been inoculated since LincolnHealth received its initial shipments of the Moderna vaccine on Dec. 22.
Martins said the hospital is now focusing on providing shots to health care professionals who service Lincoln County but may not be affiliated with LincolnHealth, as well as preparing second-dose booster shots for those who received the vaccine earliest.
Guardian, a private company contracted to provide vaccinations at long-term care facilities, has completed the administration of vaccines for employees and residents at two LincolnHealth long-term care facilities — Cove’s Edge, on the Miles Campus, and St. Andrews Village in Boothbay Harbor.
Two employees at Cove’s Edge tested positive for COVID-19 during surveillance testing on Wednesday and Thursday, Jan. 6 and 7. Martins said neither employee had direct interactions with residents or had any symptoms. No more positive tests have been discovered at the facility since.
From Jan. 4-10, LincolnHealth performed 530 tests for COVID-19 with 26 positives, for a positivity rate of 4.9%.
According to the Maine CDC, the seven-day average positivity rate for the state is 6.1%, down from 7.8% last week.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the nationwide positivity rate for “week 53,” ending Jan. 2, increased from 12.4% to 15%.
State COVID-19 numbers
According to data current as of Tuesday, the Maine CDC has reported 31,150 COVID-19 cases in Maine, an increase of 4,060 from the week before. Of those cases, 5,442 are probable.
There have been 1,201 hospitalizations and 11,809 people have completed isolation. There have been 453 deaths so far from COVID-19 in Maine, including 81 in the last week. The statewide case rate is 232.7 per 10,000 people, up from 202.4 last week.
The number of active or “other” cases, 18,888, is an increase of 3,777 from a week before.