LincolnHealth saw its one-week positivity rate spike to a new high last week since the pandemic arrived in Maine, according to an email from LincolnHealth spokesperson John Martins.
During the week of Nov. 8-14, LincolnHealth tested 610 individuals for COVID-19 with 74 positive results, for a positivity rate of 12.1%. This follows a similar spike the week prior, in which LincolnHealth saw its highest positivity rate, 9.8%, in 15 weeks.
The number of “breakthrough cases” in fully vaccinated individuals rose to 40, 54% of the total positive cases; this represents a significant increase from 13 vaccinated cases at 24% of the total cases.
Catherine Cavanaugh, DO, medical director of infectious diseases and antimicrobial stewardship with Lincoln Medical Partners, said the rise in vaccinated cases is unclear.
“Vaccinated people still get COVID; that should not be surprising. What matters is that vaccinated people are far less likely to be hospitalized or die from COVID or post-viral complications,” she said.
Martins said across Maine and neighboring states, there has been an increase in cases demanding hospitalization. He said that the MaineHealth system, which includes LincolnHealth, is experiencing capacity concerns across all hospitals.
“Many hospitals have suspended surgeries that are not considered critical due to the lack of inpatient beds for recovery purposes. At LincolnHealth, we are doing daily checks on bed availability but have had to reschedule some surgeries,” Martins said.
All beds at LincolnHealth were full on the morning of Nov. 16, and the hospital is continuing to accept patients from Pen Bay Medical Center and Midcoast Parkview Hospital when necessary.
Timothy Fox, MD, LincolnHealth’s chief medical officer, urged individuals to get the vaccine to reduce the stress on Maine’s hospitals.
“Hospitals across the state are over capacity due to COVID and COVID-related illness,’’ he said. “And the majority of people who are hospitalized are unvaccinated. This is making it extremely hard to access urgent and emergent care when it is needed.”
Anticipating a positive case spike similar to the one that followed last year’s Thanksgiving, Fox recommended that family gatherings be kept small and that all in-person attendees be vaccinated and practice personal hygiene and distancing.
LincolnHealth is entering Week 2 of school vaccination clinics, with 449 children vaccinated across eight clinics and the Herbert and Roberta Watson Health Center at LincolnHealth’s Miles Campus in Damariscotta.
Anni Pat McKenney, director of the Coulombe Center for Health Improvement and one of and one of the clinic’s key coordinators, described the clinic as a bright spot among a difficult few weeks.
“Many people have made it possible – from those actually visiting schools, to all the data entry, early morning draws in our pharmacy and those holding down the fort while staff are deployed to these clinics. What an amazing effort,” she said.
On Nov. 2, the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommended Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11. Pfizer’s vaccine for children 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.
In addition to school clinics, LincolnHealth will be offering a clinic from 8 a.m. to noon at Lincoln Medical Partners primary care in Damariscotta the day after Thanksgiving, Nov. 26, for parents who may want to be present when their child is vaccinated.
To make an appointment for a child at the Watson Center, call 633-1934.
LincolnHealth is also offering COVID-19 boosters by appointment at the Watson Community Center. Boosters are available by appointment only. 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.
Anyone age 18 and up can receive a booster. Those who received a Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are eligible for a booster shot six months after their initial series. Those who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, booster shots are also recommended for those who were vaccinated two or more months ago.
Last week, 15 of the positive results were in people under 18 years of age, down from 17 the week prior.
According to Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention data current as of Nov. 17, since COVID-19 arrived in Lincoln County in March 2020, 2,003 residents have had the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus — 1,640 confirmed cases and 363 probable.
There has been one death in Lincoln County related to COVID-19 in the last week, bringing the total to eight COVID-19-related deaths since March 2020.
An estimate of the number of people with an active infection of COVID-19 can be made using the number of cases identified within two weeks from the latest data updated on Nov. 11, 113, down from 128 the prior week and 122 two weeks prior.
According to a graph maintained by the Bangor Daily News, as of Oct. 19, 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 Nov. 16, 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 163,007.45.
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, according to Robert Long, spokesperson for the Maine CDC.
The census data for Lincoln County provided by the Maine CDC lists a population of 34,634. Of those residents, 24,682, or 71.27%, have received their first dose of the vaccine and 26,948, or 77.81%, have received the second and final dose, according to the agency’s data.
A total of 56,456 doses of vaccine have been administered, up 2,105 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 4,826 additional or booster shots given to Lincoln County residents, up 1,466 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 7.49%, down from 15.29% last week.
State COVID-19 numbers
According to data current as of Wednesday, the Maine CDC has reported 113,132 COVID-19 cases in Maine, an increase of 3,540 from the week before. Of those cases, 32,276 are probable.
There have been 2,978 hospitalizations in the state. There have been 1,243 deaths so far from COVID-19 in Maine, including 26 reported in the last week. The statewide case rate is 845.3 per 10,000 people, up from 818.8 last week.
On Wednesday, Nov. 17, Maine reported 1,042 new cases and no additional deaths over the last three days.