The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention has reported four new cases of COVID-19 and one more recovery for Lincoln County in the past week.
The agency reported three new cases, all confirmed, Thursday, Oct. 1, and a probable case Monday, Oct. 5. There have been 14 new cases among county residents since Sept. 12.
After accounting for one probable case removed from the count when the person tested negative, there have been 43 confirmed cases and seven probable cases in Lincoln County since COVID-19 arrived in mid-March. The data is current through Oct. 5.
Robert Long, spokesperson for the Maine CDC, said by email that the agency has not identified an outbreak or detected community transmission in Lincoln County.
“The additional cases in Lincoln County and other counties with relatively low case counts could result from more testing or from the fact that Maine people are traveling more from county to county,” Long said.
Thirty-seven of the 50 people have recovered and one has died, leaving 12 active cases. The number of active cases is calculated by subtracting recoveries and deaths from the confirmed and probable case total.
The case rate for Lincoln County is 14.6 per 10,000 people. Five residents have been hospitalized at some point in their illness.
According to LincolnHealth spokesperson John Martins, the hospital performed 402 COVID-19 tests between Sept. 28 and Oct. 4, with two positives, for a positivity rate of 0.5%. The number of tests is five more than the previous week and the highest weekly number for the hospital since the pandemic began as testing continues to ramp up.
“The case positivity rate for tests done at LincolnHealth is still low (0.5%). Based on those numbers, we have not established a pattern and no recent cases have been linked,” Dr. Andrew Russ, vice president of medical affairs, said by email. “It is reasonable to think that increased COVID-19 activity in other communities could affect Lincoln County, but we don’t have enough information to make that determination. We will continue to pay attention to what is happening here and outside of Lincoln County.”
Of the 402 tests LincolnHealth performed in the past week, 216 were clinical, for people exhibiting symptoms; 33 were of patients without symptoms at either admission or discharge from the hospital; and 153 were preoperative or of people with known exposure to COVID-19 who did not exhibit symptoms.
Since July 13, LincolnHealth has conducted 3,427 tests with 15 positives, for a cumulative positivity rate of 0.44%.
According to Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center, as of Sept. 29, Maine’s seven-day average positivity rate is 0.6%, up from 0.4% last week.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the nationwide positivity rate for “week 39,” ending Sept. 26, was 4.8% — the same rate reported the previous two weeks.
Martins said that in accordance with new federal and state guidelines, the hospital is testing all employees at its long-term care facilities. All the employees at Cove’s Edge have been tested, with no positive results.
As a result, LincolnHealth is looking into safe ways to allow visits at the facility by appointment.
LincolnHealth is offering drive-up flu shots for anyone over the age of 7 every weekend in October.
The clinics are at the Respiratory Care Clinic on the Miles Campus and at the Family Care Center on the St. Andrews Campus in Boothbay Harbor. Hours are 1-5 p.m. Saturdays and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sundays.
“This is an opportunity for folks to get a vaccine that is available that offers protection against a virus that could be deadly. It’s especially important this year because of COVID-19 and the potential for both viruses to be at play at the same time,” Martins said by email.
State COVID-19 numbers
The Maine CDC has reported 5,565 COVID-19 cases in Maine as of Tuesday, an increase of 174 from the week before. Of those cases, 582 are probable.
There have been 457 hospitalizations and 4,839 people have recovered. There have been 142 deaths so far from COVID-19 in Maine. The statewide case rate is 41.6 per 10,000 people.
The number of active cases, 584, is an increase of 12 from a week before.
The Maine CDC also lists the results of antibody tests. Since May 20, 528 people have tested positive for antibodies and there have been 9,945 negative results. Fourteen tests were indeterminate.
These tests determine if someone has been infected with the coronavirus by detecting antibodies the body deploys to fight the infection. The U.S. CDC states on its website that it is unknown whether antibodies confer immunity from the virus.
“We currently don’t have enough information yet to say whether someone will definitely be immune and protected from reinfection if they have antibodies to the virus,” the site says.
(Correction: An earlier version of the article online and on the front page of the Oct. 8 print edition incorrectly reported that LincolnHealth is offering drive-up flu testing. The hospital is only offering drive-up flu shots, not testing. The Lincoln County News regrets the error.)