A second resident of Lincoln County — a man in his 50s — has died of COVID-19. The county added 29 cases of the respiratory illness this week, slightly lower than the record 31 recorded the previous week.
Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, announced the death during a briefing Monday, Nov. 23. The man was only the sixth person in their 50s to die of COVID-19 in Maine, out of 189 deaths.
Two Lincoln County residents have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began in mid-March. The first, a 72-year-old Bristol woman, died July 26.
Lincoln County has also seen 21 new recoveries from the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus in the past week, for a total of 99. One more resident has been hospitalized, for a total of 10 hospitalizations so far.
According to data current as of Monday, Nov. 23, since COVID-19 arrived in Lincoln County in mid-March, 146 residents have had the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus — 139 confirmed cases and seven probable.
After accounting for the 99 recoveries and two deaths, Lincoln County has 45 active cases, up from 38 last week.
The case rate for the county is 42.5 per 10,000 people, up from 34.1 last week.
John Martins, spokesperson for LincolnHealth, urged vigilance in an email on Monday, Nov. 23.
Dr. Tim Fox, chief medical officer at LincolnHealth, stressed the same message, asking residents to skip gatherings this holiday season with family or friends who do not live in the same household.
“Hopefully the pandemic will be in our rearview mirror in 2021 and our families can celebrate the holidays together,” Fox said in an email, citing promising news about vaccines, which may be available to some Americans as early as the end of this year.
“We need to keep our guard up and stay vigilant, wear our masks, wash our hands frequently, and practice social distancing,” Fox said.
The Maine CDC’s ZIP code data does not indicate the location of the new cases. However, Whitefield’s case count has jumped to 16 from one to five last week. Damariscotta rose from six cases to nine and Jefferson from eight to 10. Nobleboro is now listed as having one to five cases, up from none last week.
All other ZIP code data remains unchanged from last week.
Wiscasset has 10 cases and Bristol, Newcastle, and Waldoboro are listed as having six to 19 cases.
The Maine CDC lists the following Lincoln County municipalities and places as having one to five cases: Alna, Boothbay, Boothbay Harbor, Bremen, Dresden, East Boothbay, Edgecomb, Nobleboro, Pemaquid, Southport, Walpole, and Whitefield.
The agency does not list any cases in New Harbor, Round Pond, South Bristol, or Trevett.
LincolnHealth performed another record number of tests in the past week, 684, with 18 positive results, for a positivity rate of 2.63%, down from 3.43% last week.
Martins said two employees of LincolnHealth tested positive for COVID-19 in the past week. One is affiliated with Lincoln Medical Partners in Damariscotta and the other worked off campus and did not have any contact with patients.
“It’s important for our patients to know that if they have not received a call from our medical team, they have not been exposed to the person who tested positive for the virus,” Martins wrote.
Since the Maine CDC opened an outbreak investigation at Cove’s Edge, a long-term care facility on LincolnHealth’s Miles Campus in Damariscotta, on Nov. 16, no other employees or residents have tested positive there.
Martins said there will be one more round of universal testing next week. If there are no positive results, the outbreak investigation can be closed and the facility can return to regular state-mandated surveillance testing.
Call volume at the LincolnHealth Respiratory Care Clinic is “off the charts,” Martins said. The clinic is taking 700-750 calls each day and has conducted 150 or more tests some days.
Martins asked for patience from callers and visitors to the clinic, located in the lower-level lot of the Webster Van Winkle Medical Building on the Miles Campus, where drive-up COVID-19 testing is done.
“We recognize that people are anxious, but we ask for their patience. We are doing all that we can to meet their needs as quickly as possible and ask for a level of understanding from the public,” Martins wrote.
Of the 684 tests LincolnHealth performed in the past week, 317 were clinical, for people exhibiting symptoms; 42 were of patients without symptoms at either admission or discharge from the hospital; and 325 were preoperative or of people with known exposure to COVID-19 who did not exhibit symptoms.
LincolnHealth also hosts a state-sponsored “swab-and-send” testing program at the Respiratory Care Clinic. From Nov. 13-20, 49 specimens were collected with four results received so far — two negative and two positive. Three tests were canceled.
Martins said the swab-and-send numbers don’t add up because the turnaround time for results is now about four days.
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 swab-and-send testing will not be available the week of Thanksgiving.
Since July 27, LincolnHealth has performed 6,567 tests with 70 positives, for a positivity rate of 1.1%, up from 0.89% last week.
According to Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center, as of Nov. 17, Maine’s seven-day average positivity rate is 2.1%, the same as last week.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the nationwide positivity rate for “week 46,” ending Nov. 14, is 11.9%, up from 10.5% last week.
State COVID-19 numbers
According to data current as of Monday, the Maine CDC has reported 10,799 COVID-19 cases in Maine, an increase of 1,280 from the week before. Of those cases, 1,101 are probable.
There have been 662 hospitalizations and 8,232 people have recovered. There have been 189 deaths so far from COVID-19 in Maine, including 19 in the last week. The statewide case rate is 80.7 per 10,000 people.
The number of active cases, 2,378, is an increase of 258 from a week before.