The number of new COVID-19 cases in Lincoln County residents dipped over the past week to 31. Two residents were hospitalized for a total of 15 since mid-March.
The case count is down from a record 51 the week prior and is welcome news as LincolnHealth plans to start vaccinating members of the public age 70 and up on Monday, Jan. 25. (See “Vaccination of people 70 and up to begin Monday.”)
Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, has been urging vigilance in combating the spread of COVID-19 so the vaccine will be as effective as possible.
“The more we can do to limit transmission now, the more effective our ongoing vaccination effort will be,” Shah has said. “By limiting nonessential interactions, wearing masks in public, staying at least 6 feet apart, and washing hands frequently, we help keep the virus away from vulnerable people until they can be vaccinated.”
According to Maine CDC data current as of Tuesday, Jan. 19, since COVID-19 arrived in Lincoln County in mid-March, 407 residents have had the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus — 360 confirmed cases and 47 probable. Two Lincoln County residents have died of complications from COVID-19.
Lincoln County has the second-lowest total case count and the third-lowest case rate in the state, after Piscataquis and Waldo counties, at 115.3 per 10,000 people.
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.”
After accounting for 159 “completed isolations” and two deaths, the number of apparent active cases is 246, up 26 from last week, although this may not reflect the actual number of people currently sick with COVID-19.
The agency says that since Nov. 25, it has not been able to follow up on every identified case of COVID-19, therefore, the number of “completed isolations” is no longer being updated.
The Maine CDC’s ZIP code data shows that Boothbay, Boothbay Harbor, Damariscotta, Jefferson, Whitefield, and Wiscasset all saw new cases in the past week.
Boothbay jumped from eight to 11 cases; Boothbay Harbor increased from 11 to 13; Damariscotta is up three, to 34 total cases; Jefferson is up one to 24; Whitefield rose to 43 from 39; and Wiscasset is the ZIP code with the highest case count in the county at 55, up from 50 last week. The Jefferson ZIP code includes Somerville, while the Wiscasset ZIP code includes Westport Island.
No other counts have changed from last week.
Newcastle and Waldoboro both fall in the 20-49 case range.
Bremen, Bristol, Dresden, Edgecomb, Nobleboro, Round Pond, and Walpole all remained in the 6-19 case range.
Alna, East Boothbay, New Harbor, Pemaquid, South Bristol, Southport, and Trevett all stayed in the 1-5 case range.
John Martins, spokesperson for LincolnHealth, said by email that the Respiratory Care Clinic on the Miles Campus in Damariscotta has continued to field calls about the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The hospital will host a vaccination clinic by appointment for all residents 70 years and older at the Marylouise Tandy Cowan Fieldhouse at the Boothbay Region YMCA starting Monday, Jan. 25.
Martins counseled patience for Lincoln County residents, as appointments will become available as vaccine doses are received.
To check for an available appointment, visit mainehealth.org/vaccine. As of Wednesday, Jan. 20, no appointments were available for individuals categorized in phases 1a or 1b of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccination plan that LincolnHealth is following.
Phase 1a includes health care, public safety, and COVID-19 response personnel, as well as residents of long-term care facilities.
Phase 1b includes anyone 70 years or older.
Phase 1b-2, which will not begin until enough vaccine doses become available, includes people 65 and older; adults with high-risk medical conditions; and front-line essential workers like those in food production, the Postal Service, manufacturing, grocery stores, public transit, education, or day care.
Phase 2 is the final phase and will make the vaccine available to everyone not included in the previous phases.
From Jan. 11-17, LincolnHealth performed 516 tests for COVID-19 with 21 positives, for a positivity rate of 4.1%.
Since Aug. 24, the state-sponsored “swab-and-send” clinic has performed 422 tests with 396 results received and three positive tests, for a positivity rate of 0.7%.
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.
According to the Maine CDC, the seven-day average positivity rate for the state is 5.3%, down from 6.1% last week.
According to the U.S. CDC, the nationwide positivity rate for “week 1,” ending Jan. 9, decreased from 15% to 14.5%.
State COVID-19 numbers
According to data current as of Tuesday, the Maine CDC has reported 34,963 COVID-19 cases in Maine, an increase of 3,813 from the week before. Of those cases, 6,440 are probable.
There have been 1,287 hospitalizations and 12,102 people have completed isolation. There have been 530 deaths so far from COVID-19 in Maine, including 77 in the last week. The statewide case rate is 261.2 per 10,000 people, up from 232.7 last week.
The number of active or “other” cases, 22,331, is an increase of 3,443 from a week before.