The number of new COVID-19 cases in Lincoln County increased over the past week with 49, up from 31 new cases last week, as vaccinations ramp up at a LincolnHealth clinic at the Boothbay Harbor YMCA.
Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 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.”
According to Maine CDC data current as of Tuesday, Jan. 26, since COVID-19 arrived in Lincoln County in mid-March, 456 residents have had the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus — 403 confirmed cases and 53 probable. Two Lincoln County residents have died of complications from COVID-19. Hospitalizations held steady 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 132.8 per 10,000 people.
After accounting for 161 “completed isolations” and two deaths, the number of apparent active cases is up to 293, 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has not been able to follow up on every identified case of COVID-19, therefore, the number of “completed isolations” is no longer being updated.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 Alna, Boothbay, Boothbay Harbor, Jefferson, Waldoboro, Whitefield, and Wiscasset have all seen new cases in the past week.
Alna moved into the 6-19 case range; Boothbay added one case for a total of 12; Boothbay Harbor added three cases for a total of 16; Jefferson jumped from 24 to 32 residents with cases; Waldoboro moved into the 50-99 range after months in the 20-49 case range; Whitefield increased by two cases to 45; and Wiscasset added three for a total of 58.
No other counts have changed from last week.
Newcastle is listed with 20-49 cases and Damariscotta has 34.
Bremen, Bristol, Dresden, Edgecomb, Nobleboro, Round Pond, and Walpole all remained in the 6-19 case range.
East Boothbay, New Harbor, Pemaquid, South Bristol, Southport, and Trevett all stayed in the 1-5 case range.
John Martins, spokesperson for LincolnHealth, said by email that people 70 and older can now get their COVID-19 vaccine by scheduling an appointment at 877-780-7545 or talking to their primary care physician.
“If there are no appointments, they will receive a notification when an appointment is available. The challenge is that appointments can only be made once we have a confirmed number of doses we are receiving,” Martins said.
“We know how frustrating this is for people, but this is outside of our control. Even with a higher allotment, supply would still fall short of demand,” he said.
Martins said that it is important for people to know that they only need to call the vaccination number once, calling more than that will not speed things along.
He said he believes the prioritization of vaccinations within the different qualifying groups, such as those 70 or older, is first come, first served.
“Those who are not in the current priority population can also call now to pre-register for a vaccine,” Martins said.
Martins said there are some disqualifying conditions for receiving the vaccine, like having had a different vaccine, such as a flu shot, in recent days. He said that if people have concerns they should contact their primary care provider.
The vaccination clinic at the Marylouise Tandy Cowan Fieldhouse at the Boothbay Region YMCA, which opened on Monday, Jan. 25, will have vaccinated 1,000 people by the end of the week, Martins said. (See “Community vaccination clinic off to a successful start” in this edition.)
Things are running smoothly there, which has been aided by people only showing up to the clinic if they have a vaccine scheduled, he said.
“When the vaccine is here, we will be ready and you will get vaccinated,” Martins said.
Martins said no appointments have yet been scheduled for the week of Monday, Feb. 1 because of the lack of clarity about what LincolnHealth will receive.
He said that LincolnHealth expects between 400 and 480 single doses to be delivered next week and anticipates less the following week, but even those numbers are in flux. The Moderna vaccine that LincolnHealth has been using requires a second booster shot 28 days after the initial shot.
Martins said that LincolnHealth is administering all the shots they receive from the state via MaineHealth. He said second doses are being set aside by MaineHealth at a system level for those who received their first dose, so everyone is guaranteed a complete vaccination. This is an approach widely recommended by public health experts.
From Jan. 18-24, LincolnHealth performed 518 tests for COVID-19 with 24 positives, for a positivity rate of 4.63%.
Since Aug. 24, the state-sponsored “swab-and-send” clinic has performed 436 tests with 414 results received and three positive tests, for a positivity rate of 0.72%.
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 5.5%, up from 5.3% last week.
According to the U.S. CDC, the nationwide positivity rate for “week 2,” ending Jan. 16, decreased from 14.5% to 11.9%.
State COVID-19 numbers
According to data current as of Tuesday, the Maine CDC has reported 38,170 COVID-19 cases in Maine, an increase of 3,207 from the week before. Of those cases, 7,353 are probable.
There have been 1,366 hospitalizations and 12,316 people have completed isolation. There have been 562 deaths so far from COVID-19 in Maine, including 32 in the last week. The statewide case rate is 285.2 per 10,000 people, up from 261.2 last week.
The number of active or “other” cases, 25,292, is an increase of 2,961 from a week before.