Maine Health Officials Not Alarmed By Covid-19 Increase Yet

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The number of new coronavirus cases has ticked up in Maine in recent weeks, but state health officials say they aren't sounding the alarm about it yet.

The state's daily caseload had dwindled in early summer, with less than 20 new cases reported on some days in June and early July. That trend has reversed in mid-July as the coronavirus counts have ticked up all over the country.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Maine rose over the course of two weeks from less than 20 new cases a day July 7 to about 58 new cases a day on Wednesday. The seven-day rolling average of daily deaths in Maine also rose over those two weeks from less than one death a day on July 7 to two a day Wednesday.

Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Nirav Shah told the Portland Press Herald the rate of increase is less in Maine than it is in much of the country. He said that was a "function of our very high vaccination rate." About 68% of the state’s eligible population is fully vaccinated against coronavirus.

Variants such as the delta variant are responsible for some of the increase in caseload in Maine, but the original COVID-19 virus remains responsible for the bulk of new infections, said Jackie Farwell, a spokesperson for the agency.

“In Maine and across the country, a higher degree of transmission appears to be occurring among unvaccinated populations,” Farwell said. “We recommend that all Maine people be vaccinated to avoid possible infection with COVID-19.”

Maine CDC said Thursday that there have been more than 69,000 cases of the virus and 891 deaths in Maine since the start of the pandemic.

The AP is using data collected by Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering to measure outbreak caseloads and deaths across the United States.

In other pandemic news in Maine:

JOBLESS CLAIMS

The number of initial unemployment claims ticked up slightly over the course of the week, the Maine Department of Labor said.

The labor department said it recorded about 1,200 initial claims filed for state unemployment insurance and 100 initial claims filed for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for the week that ended July 17. It said there were approximately 1,400 people filing an initial claim or reopening an unemployment claim.

The department said it recorded 1,200 initial claims for state unemployment insurance and 60 initial claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance during the previous week. About 1,300 people filed an initial claim or reopened an unemployment claim that week.

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