COVID-19 cases in Maine counties spiking, worrying officials
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Maine’s top health official says the number of new cases of the coronavirus is growing and he’s warning about a “geometric surge.” Another health official is worried about outbreaks “coalescing into one big fire.”
Dr. Nirav Shah, the director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said that with community transmission, cases can keep doubling rapidly.
“I am extremely, extremely concerned,” Shah told the Portland Press Herald.
Health officials are concerned about a pair of outbreaks, one in York County that’s linked to a wedding in Millinocket and another Oxford County that’s linked to a paper mill. Both are driving up Maine’s overall virus numbers.
Dr. Dora Anne Mills, chief health improvement officer at MaineHealth, the state’s largest hospital network, said that in York County a lot of people are testing positive for the virus from all age groups and people who are healthy and “not so healthy” who have no idea where they were infected.
“It’s not just that we have several outbreaks there, but that they are coalescing into one big fire,” Mills said.
On Friday, York County’s seven-day average of new cases hit an all-time high of 15.7 per day, nearly double the previous peak of 8.7 set on July 2. Case numbers are also climbing in Oxford County.
In other news related to the pandemic in Maine:
Some of Maine’s jails didn’t require inmates and staff to wear masks in the aftermath of the early stages of a large outbreak at a jail in the southern part of the state, the Bangor Daily News reported.
The York County jail outbreak, which is connected to an outbreak from a northern Maine wedding and reception, has sickened more than 80 people.
The Bangor Daily News obtained a report that details a Maine Department of Corrections inspection of the jails that took place in August and September. The inspection included 14 of Maine’s 15 county jails. It found that the practice of requiring masks of inmates, staff and visitors was not universal.
The report found that only four jails had a diversion plan for where to send inmates during an outbreak. One jail, Kennebec County Correctional Facility, wasn’t screening staff for COVID-19 symptoms.
An additional 15 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in the state, the Maine CDC said Monday. It was the lowest total of new confirmed cases since the middle of the month.
The total number of confirmed cases is 5,300, the Maine CDC said. The number of deaths remained 140. The average number of new cases per day was 30, which was about the same as it was a week ago.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.