Frank Gross, a substitute teacher at Brunswick High School, lifts his sleeve as he prepares to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic at Brunswick Parks and Recreation on March 12. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer Buy this Photo

The number of positive COVID-19 cases is creeping up across Maine, according to the latest Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention data. 

With Easter weekend upon us, hospitals are concerned that the numbers could rise even higher. 

In Androscoggin County, health officials reported that roughly 5% of people who were tested for coronaviruses tested positive. In all 77 new cases were reported in the county Friday. 

Similar bumps were recorded in other Maine counties and hospital officials say the trend is in keeping with what they’re seeing. 

“Our seven-day positivity rate also bumped up,” Steve Costello, spokesman at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center, said. “Our seven-day positivity rate here this morning was 9%, which is really high.” 

At St. Mary’s, the number of positive cases bottomed out in early March at under 3%. 

“It’s been slowly creeping up since,” Costello said. “Today was the highest we’ve seen it in quite a while.” 

Costello said the rise in numbers is consistent with what is being reported in other counties, other states and at institutions such as Bates College in Lewiston, where officials say a current outbreak on their campus is the worst they’ve seen in a year. 

COVID-19 numbers in Maine as of April 1. Maine CDC

“Hopefully we can get ahead of it,” Costello said, “with the measures we have in place and with vaccinations.”

Elsewhere, the numbers of positive cases in Oxford County on Friday was listed at about 4.5% of those tested. It was lower in Franklin County where the positivity rate was recorded at 3.3 percent. 

The positivity rate was highest in York County where it was listed at 5.23%. 

Friday marks the first time that Maine’s total number of COVID-19 cases jumped by more than 400 in one day since Feb. 2 — The Maine CDC reported 401 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, a significant increase in new infections.

Dr. John Alexander, chief medical officer at Central Maine Healthcare, said vaccinations will be key to getting those numbers back down, although he also stressed the importance of other measures that are already in place to combat the spread of the virus.

“We’ve seen our numbers go up fairly significantly over the last week and a half or so,” Alexander said. “We were in the low- to mid-hundreds a couple of weeks ago. Yesterday we crossed 400 positive cases. We’re not at a point where I think we need to be overly concerned, but I think it requires us to use special caution.

“When you see cases that are going up like that, it means that there’s still a fair amount of community spread,” Alexander said. “And so while we’re doing a great job of getting people vaccinated, we still need to be very thoughtful and very cautious and use all the guidance that we’ve been given.”

Alexander said the 4,600 doses of the vaccine are expected to be administered next week at the Auburn Mall.

“It’s really important for people to get out there and get their vaccination,” the doctor said, “because between that and all the other measures, we have a good chance to get past this pandemic.”

Vaccination at the Central Maine Healthcare-run site at the Auburn Mall is available by appointment only. To check availability, book an appointment or find out more about high-volume vaccination site, visit cmhc.org or telephone the Central Maine Healthcare COVID-19 vaccine call center at 207-520-2917.


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