Lincoln County added 25 new cases of COVID-19 in the last week as the winter surge of the pandemic continues in Maine and across the country.
Lincoln County has the second-lowest total case count, after Piscataquis County, and the fourth-lowest overall case rate, at 54.2 per 10,000 people. Only Piscataquis, Aroostook, and Sagadahoc counties have lower case rates.
The 25 cases are up from 15 last week, but lower than the high of 31 from the week of Nov. 16. The county also saw 14 new recoveries, bringing that total to 142.
After accounting for the 142 recoveries and two deaths of Lincoln County residents, the number of active cases stands at 42. One more resident has been hospitalized, for a total of 11 hospitalizations so far.
According to Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention data current as of Tuesday, Dec. 8, since COVID-19 arrived in Lincoln County in mid-March, 186 residents have had the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus — 171 confirmed cases and 15 probable.
The case rate for the county is 54.2 per 10,000 people, up from 46.9 last week.
The Maine CDC’s ZIP code data shows that cases in Whitefield and Wiscasset have increased. Whitefield is listed as having 29, up from 25 last week, and Wiscasset is listed at 22. Waldoboro is listed at 20-49.
Boothbay Harbor, Bristol, Damariscotta, Jefferson, and Newcastle are all listed as having six to 19 cases. Jefferson is listed at 12, Damariscotta at 13, and Boothbay Harbor at seven. The rest of the towns only have the range of six to 19 listed.
The agency does not list any cases in New Harbor, Round Pond, South Bristol, or Trevett.
John Martins, spokesperson for LincolnHealth, said by email that call volume at the Respiratory Care Clinic on the Miles Campus in Damariscotta remains very high.
The hospital performed 596 tests from Nov. 30 to Dec. 6 with 20 positives, for a positivity rate of 3.36%, up from 3.25% the previous week.
Of the 596 tests LincolnHealth performed in the past week, 261 were clinical, for people exhibiting symptoms; 33 were of patients without symptoms at either admission or discharge from the hospital; and 302 were preoperative or of people with known exposure to COVID-19 who did not exhibit symptoms.
The state-sponsored “swab-and-send” clinic performed 24 tests with all results currently pending, possibly reflecting a backlog at the state’s testing laboratory.
Since the swab-and-send clinic opened on Aug. 24, 277 tests have been performed with 246 results received. Only three positives have been 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 LincolnHealth remains well stocked with personal protective equipment and testing supplies.
“This is one of the times where a small rural hospital benefits from being a part of the MaineHealth system. We remain in good shape,” Martins wrote.
In reference to a vaccine being distributed in the near future, Martins said there is not yet a definitive timeline, but he expects more details in the coming weeks.
“Information shared thus far is the initial number of doses will be very limited and will likely be dispersed to high-priority health care workers who have a high risk for exposure to COVID-19,” Martins wrote.
The federal Food and Drug Administration is expected to consider emergency approval requests for COVID-19 vaccines on Thursday, Dec. 10. The agency has said that after approval, the first inoculations can occur quickly.
So far, Bahrain, China, Russia, and the United Kingdom have approved vaccines for limited use.
Martins urged residents to get the care they need at LincolnHealth, despite the pandemic.
“We are seeing a trend of people canceling important appointments, like surgeries, for example, and other procedures. We are taking all the precautions necessary to assure that our patients are safe, and we encourage those who need care to get it,” Martins wrote.
Since Aug. 31, LincolnHealth has performed 6,374 tests with 104 positives, for a positivity rate of 1.63%.
According to Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center, as of Dec. 9, Maine’s seven-day average positivity rate is 3.4% and has been steadily rising over the past month.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the nationwide positivity rate for “week 48,” ending Nov. 28, is 11.7%, up from 10.7% last week.
State COVID-19 numbers
According to data current as of Tuesday, the Maine CDC has reported 14,454 COVID-19 cases in Maine, an increase of 2,246 from the week before. Of those cases, 1,776 are probable.
There have been 819 hospitalizations and 10,338 people have recovered. There have been 246 deaths so far from COVID-19 in Maine, including a record 28 in the last week. The statewide case rate is 108 per 10,000 people, up from 91.2 last week.
The number of active cases, 3,870, is an increase of 1,434 from a week before.