Lincoln County saw 23 new cases of COVID-19 in the past week, down slightly from 25 new cases last week.
According to Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention data current as of Tuesday, Feb. 23, since COVID-19 arrived in Lincoln County in mid-March 2020, 574 residents have had the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus — 501 confirmed cases and 73 probable.
One more resident was hospitalized with COVID-19, bringing the total to 15.
Lincoln County has the second-lowest total case count and the fifth-lowest case rate in the state, after Hancock, Knox, Piscataquis, and Waldo counties, at 167.1 per 10,000 people.
After accounting for 164 “completed isolations” and one death, the number of apparent active cases is up to 387, although this likely does 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has not been able to follow up on every identified case of COVID-19, therefore, the number of “completed isolations” is no longer being updated.
Vaccinations are ongoing for members of the general public 70 years and older at a LincolnHealth clinic at the Boothbay Region YMCA’s Marylouise Tandy Cowan Fieldhouse in Boothbay Harbor.
John Martins, spokesperson for LincolnHealth, said by email on Tuesday, Feb. 23 that the week of Monday, Feb. 22 will be the busiest since the clinic opened one month ago.
The clinic will distribute 400 first doses, 100 doses held over from last week because of inclement weather, and 900 second doses during the five days the clinic is open.
Eligible individuals can call 877-780-7545 to request an appointment or talk to their primary care physician, Martins said. In addition, those who are not yet eligible can preregister to be offered a vaccine appointment when doses are more widely available.
Vaccine appointments can also be made through pharmacies at Walmart or Walgreens.
According to Maine CDC data current as of Tuesday, Feb. 23, Lincoln County has a “high” rate of doses administered per 100,000 residents relative to other counties in the state at 26,159.27.
The latest census data for Lincoln County lists a population of 34,634. Of those residents, 6,532, or 18.86%, have received their first dose of the vaccine and 2,528, or 7.30%, have received the second and final dose, according to the agency’s data.
Martins said residents should not let their guard down, even if they have received the second dose of the vaccine. He said everyone should continue to wear a face covering, physically distance, and avoid large groups.
Martins said that it is not yet certain if the vaccine prevents someone without symptoms from passing the virus to others and full immunity doesn’t kick in until two weeks after the second dose. He also said that while the vaccine is 95% effective at preventing serious illness, one out of every 20 vaccinated people can still become ill with COVID-19 and it is not clear how the vaccine performs against the new and more contagious variants of the coronavirus.
“It is exciting to see the vaccination numbers going up and the number of new cases going down, but we must remain vigilant with the precautions to assure our health and the health and well-being of others,” Martins wrote.
Martins said that despite news reports that Maine is on pace to begin vaccinating people ages 65-69 next week, LincolnHealth, which is a part of the MaineHealth system, has not yet received any word regarding changes in vaccination priorities from the Maine CDC.
“MaineHealth will not vaccinate those age 65 to 69 until it catches up on the backlog of those 70-plus who are registered,” Martins wrote.
On Saturday, Feb. 20, the Maine CDC reported an outbreak investigation associated with Maine Department of Transportation employees who operate the bridges in South Bristol and Southport.
Maine CDC defines an outbreak as three or more cases with epidemiological links.
The outbreak investigation includes six confirmed cases in MaineDOT employees and one confirmed case in a contractor, the department said in an email statement.
“These cases do not impact MaineDOT’s ability to respond to emergency situations, including plowing snow during winter weather events,” the statement said.
The Maine CDC’s ZIP code data shows that case counts in Boothbay Harbor, Damariscotta, Jefferson, and Wiscasset have increased in the past week.
Boothbay Harbor added two cases for a total of 22; Damariscotta added six cases for a total of 51; and Wiscasset saw an increase of two to move to a total of 92 cases, the highest in Lincoln County. Wiscasset’s ZIP code includes Westport Island.
All other counts remain unchanged from last week.
COVID-19 tests at the Respiratory Care Clinic on LincolnHealth’s Miles Campus in Damariscotta again decreased this week, down to 376 tests performed between Feb. 15 and 21. Of those tests, 12 were positive, for a positivity rate of 3.19%.
The state’s swab-and-send site on LincolnHealth’s Miles Campus 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 Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center, the seven-day average positivity rate for Maine is 1.1%, down significantly from 3.7% last week.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the seven-day average positivity rate as of Friday, Feb. 19 is 5.9%.
State COVID-19 numbers
According to data current as of Tuesday, the Maine CDC has reported 43,900 COVID-19 cases in Maine, an increase of 1,028 from the week before. Of those cases, 9,177 are probable.
There have been 1,515 hospitalizations and 12,779 people have completed isolation. There have been 677 deaths so far from COVID-19 in Maine, including 23 in the last week. The statewide case rate is 328 per 10,000 people, up from 320.3 last week.
The number of active or “other” cases, 30,444, is an increase of 919 from a week before.