Maine is reporting 893 new cases of COVID-19 over a four-day period, and seven additional deaths.
The cases are from Saturday through Tuesday as the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention does not report case counts over the weekend, and the Indigenous Peoples Day holiday further delayed reporting of cases.
If there’s not a substantial backlog of cases to work through this week, the four-day case count represents a decline in average daily cases. The seven-day average of daily new cases stood at 382.9 on Wednesday, compared to 589.3 a week ago and 444.1 a month ago.
In recent weeks, Maine CDC workers haven’t been able to process all of the test results coming in to weed out duplicate positive test results, causing a backlog that resulted in thousands of tests being processed several days or more than a week after they were initially reported to the state. But last week there was not a significant backlog and the daily reports were more reflective of current trends.
Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine CDC, will brief the media at 2 p.m. today.
Maine’s infection rate is close to the national average, with Maine reporting 27.4 cases per 100,000 people – on a seven-day average – compared to the national average of 28, according to the Harvard Global Health Institute.
Since the pandemic began in March, 2020, Maine has reported 95,833 cases of COVID-19, and 1,083 deaths.
Maine reported 168 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Wednesday, with 60 in critical care and 29 on a ventilator. Hospitalization numbers have ticked up in the past week after falling from a peak of 235 patients in late September.
On the vaccination front, 888,802 people have received their final dose, representing 66.1 percent of the state’s 1.3 million population.
Meanwhile, officials with Central Maine Healthcare in Lewiston on Tuesday asked the Mills administration for a testing option in the mandate that health care workers must be vaccinated against COVID-19. Steve Littleson, president and CEO of Central Maine Healthcare, said that with more than 200 staff leaving their jobs rather than get vaccinated, it will result in Central Maine Medical Center cutting services, including neonatal intensive care, pediatric hospital admissions and trauma care.
But Gov. Janet Mills rejected the idea, and none of the other major health care systems in the state – MaineHealth, Northern Light Health and MaineGeneral Medical Center – are requesting a testing option.
“Health care workers must take every precaution to protect themselves and those they serve,” Mills said. “Regular testing is not nearly as effective at protecting peoples’ health as vaccination, which is why it is not a part of our policy and it is not a part of the forthcoming federal policy requiring all health care workers to be vaccinated.”
The hospitals are reporting that so far about 90 percent or more of their workers are vaccinated leading up to Friday, which is the last day that health care employees can get their shots and comply with an Oct. 29 deadline to be fully vaccinated. People who get the Johnson & Johnson shot on Friday will be fully immunized two weeks after the shot is given.
Paul Bolin, senior vice president and chief human resources officer for Northern Light Health, said in a conference call with reporters on Wednesday said that 95.5 percent of the system’s more than 12,000 employees are fully vaccinated, and he expects the percentage to increase.
“We are seeing people each day change their mind and make the decision to become vaccinated,” Bolin said.
Bolin said Northern Light does not expect “any significant curtailments of our operations” after the mandate goes into effect.
This story will be updated.