Lincoln County saw 41 more residents diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past week—the second-highest weekly increase since the pandemic began in mid-March—for a total of 296 cases identified.
The previous weekly high of 47 was set last week. Prior to that, the highest weekly increase was set the week of Monday, Nov. 16 with 31 new cases, when the initial fall surge of COVID-19 started.
Lincoln County has the second-lowest total case count in the state, after Piscataquis County, and the second-lowest case rate, at 86.2 per 10,000 people. Only Piscataquis has a lower case rate.
After accounting for 144 “completed isolations” and two deaths of Lincoln County residents, the number of apparent active cases is 150, up from 111 last week. The number of residents hospitalized with COVID-19 held steady at 12 this week.
The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention has recently updated its nomenclature to refer to recoveries as “completed isolations.” There have only been two completed isolation identified since Dec. 8, which reflects the current backlog and shifting prioritizations in contact tracing by the state public health agency.
The Maine CDC’s website says that since Nov. 25, the agency has not been able to follow-up with every identified case of COVID-19, therefore the number of “completed isolations” is no longer being updated.
Robert Long, spokesperson for the Maine CDC, said by email on Dec. 16 that the agency doesn’t use the term “active cases,” but refers to any cases that are not a completed isolation or a death as “other cases.” He said the term “active cases” has a different epidemiological meaning.
According to Maine CDC data current as of Tuesday, Dec. 29, since COVID-19 arrived in Lincoln County in mid-March, 296 residents have had the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus — 269 confirmed cases and 27 probable.
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.”
“At this time, the total number of cases of COVID-19 in Maine is higher than the case numbers shown here,” the website says.
The Central Lincoln County YMCA, Great Salt Bay Community School, and Reunion Station restaurant in Damariscotta and Sheepscot Village Day Care in Newcastle have reported cases of COVID-19 during the past week.
Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, announced during a press briefing on Monday, Dec. 28 that three cases had been discovered at Sheepscot Village Day Care and an outbreak investigation had been opened. The agency defines outbreaks as three or more epidemiologically linked COVID-19 cases in a two-week period.
Shah said that the day care closed on Monday, Dec. 21 and is working closely with the Maine CDC and following all recommended protocols.
CLC YMCA announced in a letter from Chief Executive Officer Casey Clark Kelley that was posted to Facebook on Wednesday, Dec. 23 that an individual who had last been at the Damariscotta facility on Monday, Dec. 21 had tested positive for COVID-19. According to the letter, the individual is associated with the facility’s youth programs.
Clark Kelley said by email on Monday, Dec. 28 that no other individuals have tested positive for COVID-19 since the announcement.
A letter to the GSB community from Principal Kim Schaff on Wednesday, Dec. 23, said that an individual associated with the school had recently tested positive for COVID-19 and another individual is a presumptive positive.
Schaff said by email on Monday, Dec. 28 that there have been no further positive tests and the school expects to return to in-person instruction after holiday break as planned on Monday, Jan. 4.
Reunion Station in Damariscotta will remain closed until Tuesday, Jan. 5 after the three family members who run the restaurant tested positive for COVID-19, according owner Sharlene Feltis.
The Maine CDC’s ZIP code data shows that Boothbay, Boothbay Harbor, Bremen, Damariscotta, Jefferson, Whitefield, and Wiscasset saw new COVID-19 cases in residents.
Boothbay increased from six last week to seven this week and Boothbay Harbor increased from seven to nine.
Bremen jumped from one to five to 6-19 cases, while Damariscotta increased from 17 to 20. Jefferson is up to 17 from 15 last week, Whitefield is up to 39 from 34, and Wiscasset increased to 35 from 28 last week.
No other counts have changed from last week.
Waldoboro is listed as having 20-49 residents who have tested positive for COVID-19.
Bristol, Edgecomb, Newcastle, and Walpole are listed at six to 19 cases.
The agency lists one to five cases in Alna, Dresden, East Boothbay, Nobleboro, Pemaquid, Round Pond, South Bristol, and Southport.
The agency does not list any cases in New Harbor or Trevett.
John Martins, spokesperson for LincolnHealth, said by email that call volume at the Respiratory Care Clinic on the Miles Campus in Damariscotta dipped during the Christmas holiday but has now increased again this week, along with the number of COVID-19 tests being scheduled.
LincolnHealth performed 440 tests from Dec. 21-27 with 17 positives, for a positivity rate of 3.86%, down from 4.39% the previous week.
Of the 440 tests LincolnHealth performed in the past week, 174 were clinical, for people exhibiting symptoms; 32 were of patients without symptoms at either admission or discharge from the hospital; and 233 were preoperative or of people with known exposure to COVID-19 who did not exhibit symptoms.
The state-sponsored “swab-and-send” clinic performed 21 tests in the past week with no results yet reported.
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.
Martins said that vaccinations are ongoing at LincolnHealth and are currently focused on employees who are patient-facing. The hospital has inoculated 312 individuals so far and 80 more employees are scheduled to receive their first dose of the Moderna vaccine this week.
“There is still no timetable for vaccinations for the public. The experience we are getting during the employee vaccination process is certainly valuable and will be drawn upon when it’s time for public vaccination,” Martins wrote.
Martins said that vaccinations will begin at Cove’s Edge on Monday, Jan. 4 and will be administered by an outside vendor, Guardian. Inoculations will take place at St. Andrew’s Village on Wednesday, Jan. 6.
Since Sept. 7, LincolnHealth has performed 7,556 tests with 161 positives for a positivity rate of 2.13%, up from 2.02% last week.
According to the Maine CDC, as of Dec. 28, Maine’s seven-day average positivity rate is 6.4%, up from 5.8% last week, and has been steadily rising since November.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the nationwide positivity rate for “week 51,” ending Dec. 19, decreased for the second week in a row to 12.1%, down from 12.2% last week.
State COVID-19 numbers
According to data current as of Tuesday, the Maine CDC has reported 23,449 COVID-19 cases in Maine, an increase of 2,958 from the week before. Of those cases, 3,435 are probable.
There have been 1,039 hospitalizations and 11,326 people have completed isolation. There have been 334 deaths so far from COVID-19 in Maine, including 23 in the last week. The statewide case rate is 175.6 per 10,000 people, up from 129.3 last week.
The number of active or “other” cases, 11,839, is an increase of 2,698 from a week before.