Maine shattered its daily record for COVID-19 cases on Friday, with 103 new infections reported as the virus continues to spread widely across the state.

Gov. Janet Mills indicated that she is considering a range of steps in response to the surge, such as delaying the scheduled reopening of bars on Monday and reducing the maximum size of indoor gatherings.

Also on Friday, as a result of worsening trends, two counties – Somerset and Washington – joined Waldo County in the Maine Department of Education’s yellow designation, which means hybrid learning is recommended and school sports and extracurricular activities will be curtailed. Maine’s 13 other counties are in the green zone.

Forty-four of the new cases are in Cumberland County, 11 in Somerset County and nine cases each in York and Kennebec counties. There were no additional deaths. Cumberland County has seen cases jump from 16 on Wednesday to 22 on Thursday and 44 on Friday.

Recent Cumberland County outbreaks include 18 cases at Pat’s Pizza in the Old Port in Portland, and 18 cases at the Maine Correctional Center in Windham.

Cases keep climbing in Maine after a long period of relatively stable, low case counts. There were 80 new cases on Thursday and 76 on Wednesday.

The seven-day daily average of new cases stood at 67.9 on Friday, compared to 37 a week ago and 30.4 a month ago.

Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a tweet Friday that “the surge is here. Take action now. For your sake, and for the sake of your family and community, wear a mask and stay apart. This is serious.”

Testing has increased substantially over the past week, Shah said. The seven-day daily average of COVID-19 tests performed was 519 tests per 100,000 population on Friday, a jump of 15-25 percent compared to the previous month. Testing has fluctuated between about 400 tests per 100,000 to 450 tests per 100,000, the Maine CDC said.

But the percentage of tests that have been returned as positive also has increased, with the seven-day daily average going from 0.49 percent two weeks ago to 0.83 on Friday. The national average is about 7 percent, so Maine is doing much better than the rest of the country, but the increase in the positivity rate is a worrisome trend, Shah said. The higher the positivity rate, the harder it is for public health workers to tamp down on outbreaks and prevent exponential growth of the virus.

Robert Long, Maine CDC spokesman, said in an email that while testing volume is robust, “the increase in cases appears most likely to result from community transmission.”

“The continued rise in the seven-day positivity rate offers another indication that the increase in cases derives more from community transmission than additional testing,” Long said.

The steady rise in case counts comes a day after Maine announced a partnership with Walgreens, which will stock free rapid antigen tests that can produce results within 15 minutes.

The rapid tests are expected to be in 65 Walgreens locations throughout Maine as a drive-thru service starting sometime in November. A doctor’s note is not needed for the rapid tests, and anyone who thinks they need a test can get one under Maine’s standing order for COVID-19 tests.

Patients will “self-swab” their nasal cavity under the supervision of a pharmacy employee. The nasal swabs are less invasive than the deep nasal swab tests used in the more common COVID-19 PCR molecular tests, which typically return results within 24 to 48 hours in Maine.

Dr. Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology at Harvard University, said in a conference call with reporters on Friday that Maine’s partnership with Walgreens is a “great idea” because the state can “leverage the (retail) footprint of Walgreens to make testing more accessible.”

Mina has been advocating for the expansion of rapid testing as a key tool to help suppress the virus. Maine will receive 400,000 of the rapid antigen tests by the end of the year, with more expected in 2021. The tests will help health care workers, police, firefighters, paramedics, teachers and other essential workers who have been exposed to COVID-19 return to work sooner if they test negative and don’t have symptoms.

“We need to be thinking about every part of this as strategic,” Mina said. “Walgreens is really well situated  to work with departments of health in Maine and other states to develop these strategies.”

Current hospitalizations were at 17 on Friday, with five people in intensive care. The inpatient population has begun to inch higher and is more dispersed among the state’s hospitals.

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