BATH — Sagadahoc County has seen a spike in positive COVID-19 cases in the past two weeks, according to data from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The county has seen 13 new cases in the past two weeks, giving the county a positive case rate of 3.63 per 10,000 people, the highest in the state, according to the Maine CDC. Meanwhile, Cumberland County has experienced 78 new COVID-19 cases in that timeframe but has 2.64 positive case rate per 10,000 people.

This hasn’t always been the case.

Since the disease reached Maine in March, Sagadahoc County has seen 58 cases of COVID-19 — 48 of those people have recovered — and no deaths as of Tuesday, totaling a case rate of 16.3 per 10,000 people, according to the Maine CDC. Cumberland County has had 2,143 COVID-19 cases, with 69 deaths and 3,649 recoveries, totaling a 31.5 per 10,000 people case rate.

Nancy Riley, an epidemiology professor at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, said even though Sagadahoc County has fewer cases than other counties in Maine, it has a higher COVID-19 infection rate than larger counties.

“The CDC takes the number of positive cases, and divides it by the total population of a county, so although there are fewer cases in Sagadahoc County than Cumberland County, there are also fewer people,” said Riley.


Lincoln County, north of Sagadahoc, has a population of about 34,600, according to the US Census, a similar population to Sagadahoc County at about 35,800. However, Sagadahoc’s 3.63 positive case rate towers over Lincoln County, which saw only 3 positive cases in the past two weeks, a positive case rate of 0.87 per 10,000 people.

Sagadahoc also tops the state in percentage of positive COVID-19 tests at 11 positives out of 921 tests, or a 1.2% positivity rate as of Tuesday. Cumberland County has a 0.9% positive testing rate with 76 positive tests out of 8,899 total tests.

Peter Millard, a professor of epidemiology from the University of New England, said the percentage of positive tests can be unreliable or deceiving when dealing with small numbers.

“In a small county like Sagadahoc County, one case can make a big difference,” Millard said.

For example, if Sagadahoc County saw only nine positive tests rather than 11, its positive test percentage rate would fall to 0.9%, the same as Cumberland County’s.

Robert Long, communications director for the Maine CDC, said the department hasn’t found a single cause or epicenter for Sagadahoc County’s increase in cases, and the CDC hasn’t detected “community transmission” in Sagadahoc County.


Transmission between members of a household remains the most common way the virus spreads, according to Long.

“While the positivity rate for Sagadahoc County has ticked up recently, the total case count remains relatively low,” said Long. “That said, Maine CDC continues to recommend that residents of and visitors to all Maine communities live their lives as if the virus is present. Physical distancing, use of face coverings in public places, and frequent handwashing remain among the best ways to prevent potential transmission of the virus.”

Despite Sagadahoc County’s seemingly high case rate, Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick isn’t treating any patients for COVID-19 and hasn’t since Aug. 5, according to hospital spokeswoman Judy Kelsh.

Mid Coast Hospital has tested 1,822 patients for COVID-19 so far this month, with four positive results, according to Kelsh. Since the onset of the pandemic, Mid Coast Hospital has tested 6,510 patients for COVID-19, with 55 positive results.

The state has seen 4,213 confirmed and probable cases since the pandemic arrived in March. Of those, 3,469 people have recovered and 127 have died. As of Tuesday, there were 437 active cases in Maine.

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