Maine’s COVID-19 cases surged on Monday, with 427 new cases reported, another one-day record. No additional deaths were reported.
The previous record was 349 new cases on Dec. 2. The seven-day daily average stood at 291.1 on Monday, compared to 168.1 a week ago and 156 a month ago. In mid-October, the seven day daily average was about 30 cases. York County reported 110 new cases on Monday, while Cumberland County logged 93, with 66 new cases in Kennebec County and 64 in Androscoggin County.
“We’ve hit another mark that I hoped we would never hit,” said Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in a tweet. “Sadly, this may not be the last time.”
Over the past 28 days, Androscoggin County had the highest COVID-19 case rate per capita, at 68.34 per 10,000 population. The next highest was York County at 45.85, while Cumberland County’s stood at 39.46.
Shah will address the media at 2 p.m. today, joined by Jeanne Lambrew, Maine’s health and human services commissioner. Shah said on Friday the agency was considering refocusing its efforts because the “ferocious” increase in new cases is leaving employees struggling to keep up with tasks such as contact tracing.
The agency may give priority to vulnerable populations for contact tracing, with details of the new plan expected to be disclosed at today’s media briefing.
The surge in cases in Maine and across the United States comes as vaccines near approval. Pfizer’s vaccine candidate may receive Food and Drug Administration emergency use approval as soon as later this week, with the first shipments of the vaccine reaching states early next week. A second vaccine developed by Moderna could receive FDA approval by Dec. 17, with shipments beginning shortly thereafter.
Maine Gov. Janet Mills announced on Saturday she had tested negative for COVID-19. She had been exposed to the virus by a member of her security detail, but they had both been wearing masks.
“Masks work! And I’m proof,” Mills said in a statement on Saturday. Last week, Mills announced an extension of a 9 p.m. curfew for certain businesses, such as restaurants and movie theaters, to Jan. 3, in an attempt to curb transmission.
Overall, there have been 13,775 cases of COVID-19 in Maine since the pandemic began, and 227 deaths. On Monday, 170 people were being treated as inpatients in Maine hospitals, with 52 in critical care beds.
This story will be updated.