The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday reported 44 cases of the novel coronavirus and no additional deaths, as Waldo County becomes a new point of focus in statewide pandemic control.
An outbreak at Brooks Pentecostal Church in the Waldo County town of Brooks had been linked to 57 COVID-19 cases as of Friday. The growth in case numbers in the county spurred the Maine Department of Education to heighten Waldo’s school risk level to “yellow,” meaning school officials may consider canceling sports and other extracurricular activities and limiting numbers of people in buildings, among other precautions.
Maine’s cumulative cases rose to 6,137 on Saturday, a net increase of 42 cases since Friday. The reported number of new cases on Saturday – 44 – is higher than the difference in daily totals because the Maine CDC revises its numbers of cumulative total cases based on how many “probable” cases later test negative, and on the results of contact tracing investigations.
Of those 6,137 cumulative cases, 5,475 have been confirmed by testing and 662 are considered probable cases of COVID-19.
One hundred forty-six people have died with COVID-19 in Maine, and 5,317 have recovered from the disease. Maine had 674 active cases on Saturday.
Brooks Pentecostal Church saw a spate of cases after a fellowship gathering from Oct. 2-4 that over 100 people attended without using masks or observing social distancing. Other churches, including Quaker Hill Christian Church in Unity and the Charleston Church and Faith Bible College in Charleston, also had members present.
New case rates have been steadily rising in Maine since late summer, though the state still maintains one of the country’s lowest rates of infection. In mid-August, Maine saw an average of 14 new cases per day; on Saturday, the seven-day average of daily new cases was 35.4.
The University of New England in Biddeford is also dealing with a possible outbreak. Three students this past week tested positive after attending an off-campus event, and all have either returned home or moved into isolation, the university said.
Close contacts of those students have been identified and are being tested and relocated to alternative housing. All students of the residence hall where the three infected students lived – Featherman Hall – are in quarantine until at least Tuesday, the school said.
The University of Maine System on Saturday reported eight active cases of COVID-19 across its eight schools, the same number as on Friday. There were four cases at the University of Maine at Augusta, one at the University of Maine in Orono and three at the University of Maine at Farmington.
County by county in Maine since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been 845 COVID-19 cases in Androscoggin, 60 in Aroostook, 2,463 in Cumberland, 74 in Franklin, 63 in Hancock, 309 in Kennebec, 58 in Knox, 60 in Lincoln, 158 in Oxford, 285 in Penobscot, 10 in Piscataquis, 80 in Sagadahoc, 133 in Somerset, 143 in Waldo, 31 in Washington, and 1,364 in York.
By age, 13 percent of patients were under 20, while 16.4 percent were in their 20s, 15.3 percent were in their 30s, 13.9 percent were in their 40s, 16.2 percent were in their 50s, 11.4 percent were in their 60s, 7.2 percent were in their 70s, and 6.7 percent were 80 or older.
Women still make up a slight majority of cases, at just over 51 percent.
Effective Oct. 1, the Maine CDC said it will no longer update hospital capacity data on weekends. On Friday, Maine’s hospitals had eight patients with COVID-19, none of whom was in intensive care or on a ventilator. The state had 112 intensive care unit beds available of a total 380, and 258 ventilators available of 318. There were also 444 alternative ventilators.
Around the world late Saturday afternoon, there were 42.4 million known cases of COVID-19 and over 1.1 million deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. The United States had more than 8.5 million cases and 224,537 deaths.