Maine reported 12 more deaths and 255 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, underscoring the gravity of the runaway pandemic.

The previous one-day high for new cases was 247 cases on Nov. 12.

Robert Long, Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention spokesman, said the 12 deaths were confirmed by the agency Tuesday but did not all occur on one day. Two people died in the last 24 hours, and the remaining 10 deaths occurred on previous days and were added to the Maine CDC death totals for those days, he said.

 

Maine’s overall death rate from COVID-19 is second-lowest in the nation, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, at 132 per 1 million population, compared to a national average of 783 per 1 million. Only Vermont at 101 per 1 million has a lower fatality rate.

States where COVID-19 surges occurred early in the pandemic, such as New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Connecticut, have the worst fatality rates. In New Jersey, which has the worst COVID-19 mortality rates in the nation, 1,887 have died per 1 million population.

States that have seen fall surges worse than Maine also have much-higher mortality rates, such as North Dakota and South Dakota, which have mortality rates of 1,118 and 926 per 1 million population, respectively.

Of the deaths reported on Tuesday, five were in Somerset County, four were in York County, and single deaths were recorded in Franklin, Androscoggin and Washington counties.

Since the pandemic began, 10,799 Maine people have had COVID-19, and 189 have died. On Monday, Maine CDC director Dr. Nirav Shah said that new cases have been outpacing the number of new contact tracers hired, so the agency has had to curtail some of its contact-tracing follow-up efforts.

People who have confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 will still be traced and called, but Maine CDC employees will no longer do periodic check-ins and follow-up calls to save resources for outbreak investigations and to keep up with the volume of cases.

The seven-day average of daily new cases stood at 207.9 on Tuesday, up from 188.7 a week ago and 59 a month ago.

COVID-19 hospitalizations topped 100 for the first time in Maine on Monday – rising from 94 to 103 from the previous 24-hour period – while the number of people in critical care beds ticked up from 42 to 45. By comparison, there were just 13 hospitalizations among people with COVID-19 in Maine and five individuals in the ICU four weeks ago on Oct. 26.

Hospitalizations have surged across Maine in recent weeks, particularly in central, western and eastern Maine. The 103 hospitalizations is more than 50 percent higher than the worst day during the spring surge of the virus. And while there were more than 100 available ICU beds statewide on Monday, there are concerns that the coronavirus cases are surging at a time when the seasonal flu typically results in a spike in hospitalizations in Maine.

This story will be updated.

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