From Jan. 24-30, LincolnHealth recorded its lowest tests and positivity rate since the week of Dec. 20, according to LincolnHealth spokesperson John Martins.
Of the 696 tests conducted from Jan. 17 to 23, there were 118 positive cases for a positivity rate of 16.95%, down from 26.32% the week prior.
Of those positive cases, 65, or 55%, received at least two doses of the COVID-19 vaccination. There were 38 cases in those under the age of 18.
“While optimism about COVID-19 comes with caution, all indicators suggest we are moving the right direction,” Martins said in a Feb. 1 email.
The Miles Campus hospital is still full and some patients are currently staying in the emergency department as they await beds. Others are rescheduling surgeries that demand an overnight stay.
The hospital currently meets the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s definition of “contingency levels,” meaning that administrators are seeking alternative staffing resources and non-emergent procedures are being rescheduled. No LincolnHealth department has yet reached crisis levels.
“It is definitely encouraging that all signs are indicating we are over the omicron peak,” LincolnHealth Chief Medical Officer Timothy Fox said. “I am very excited about that. Our hospitals, on the other hand, will continue to struggle due to staffing challenges and pent up demand caused by the cancellations and delays of visits and procedures as a result of such a long surge.”
In other news, the Moderna vaccine was recently approved by the Food and Drug administration. Martins hopes that this development will encourage those who have avoided the vaccine to consider getting it.
Those seeking a booster shot have the option of scheduling an appointment for a booster shot or walking into the clinic at the Watson Health Center at Miles Campus when it is open.
Martins pointed out that published medical studies have found that the COVID-19 booster reduces the likelihood of hospitalization by 90-97%, reduces emergency and urgent care visits by 82%, and reduces the chance of infection with the Omicron variant.
The Watson Health Center is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, and Friday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday. Booster appointments can be made at vaccine.mainehealth.org or by calling 877-780-7545. Those registering will need to provide the date of their final COVID-19 shot.
Those who received a Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are eligible for a booster shot six months after their initial series. For those who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, booster shots are recommended after two or more months.
Pediatric COVID-19 vaccinations are available 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday in the Lincoln Medical Partners Primary Care Office in Damariscotta. Pediatric patients do not need to schedule special appointments.
Pfizer’s vaccine for children ages 5-11 is available in a two-dose series and is administered in a lower dose than the vaccine for adolescents and adults. Just like adults, doses will be administered 21 days apart.
According to Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention data through Feb.1, since COVID-19 arrived in Lincoln County in March 2020, 3,720 residents have had the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus — 3,210 confirmed cases and 510 probable.
There has been one COVID-19-related death reported in the last week, raising the total to 20 in the county.
According to a graph maintained by the Bangor Daily News, masking is recommended in Lincoln County and every other county in Maine. The U.S. CDC is recommending that people wear face coverings indoors if there is “substantial transmission” of the coronavirus in a county, defined as a weekly case rate of 50 or more cases per 100,000 people.
According to Maine CDC data current as of Jan. 18, for the total population, Lincoln County has a “moderate to high” rate of vaccine doses administered per 100,000 residents relative to other counties in the state at 211,966.15.
The number does not represent fully vaccinated individuals and, since the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines both require two doses, the number can be higher than 100,000.
The census data for Lincoln County provided by the Maine CDC lists a population of 34,634. Of those residents, 26,257, or 75.81%, have received their first dose of the vaccine and 26,889, or 77.64%, have received the second and final dose, according to the agency’s data.
A total of 70,129 doses of vaccine have been administered, up 461 doses from last week. Those counted in the final dose category have either received the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or the single shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
There have been 16,983 additional or booster shots given to Lincoln County residents, up 301 doses from last week.
The vaccine is being provided through all of LincolnHealth’s primary care practices, as well as a booster of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
According to a database maintained by the Maine CDC, vaccine appointments can be requested at Hannaford in Damariscotta, Walgreens in Damariscotta and Boothbay Harbor, Nathan’s Pharmacy in Boothbay Harbor, and Community Pharmacy in Waldoboro.
Patients of Sheepscot Valley Health Center in Coopers Mills can call 549-7581 to make an appointment for a vaccine.
To schedule an appointment at Hannaford, go to hannaford.com/pharmacy/covid-19-vaccine.
To schedule an appointment at Walgreens, go to walgreens.com/schedulevaccine or call 1-800-WALGREENS.
To schedule an appointment at Community Pharmacy, go to communityrx.com/covid-19.
To schedule an appointment at Nathan’s Pharmacy, call 315-2280.
According to Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center, the seven-day average positivity rate for Maine is 17%, down from 20.08% last week.
State COVID-19 numbers
According to data current as of Feb. 1, the Maine CDC has reported 177,099 COVID-19 cases in Maine, an increase of 8,625 from the week before. Of those cases, 46,628 are probable.
There have been 3,949 hospitalizations in the state. There have been 1,759 deaths so far from COVID-19 in Maine, including 45 reported in the last week. The statewide case rate is 1,323.2 per 10,000 people, up from 1,258.8 last week.
On Feb. 2, Maine reported 1,340 new cases with eight additional deaths. However, daily counts are being de-emphasized by the Maine CDC due to a backlog of thousands of positive tests waiting to be verified.