As Maine’s COVID-19 cases plummet, state health officials are aiming to tamp down cases further by finding more ways to reach people who are willing to be vaccinated.

Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said that while Maine is among the leaders in the United States for its vaccination rate, there is still more work to be done.

“We are urging folks to get vaccinated,” Shah said. “The vaccines are the prime reason for the decrease in cases.”

The state reported 87 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday and no additional deaths, a continued decline in infections as Maine’s vaccination rate increases and the state continues to reopen.

With 59 percent of eligible Mainers fully vaccinated as of Sunday, high school sports and concerts are returning, and the state is looking forward to a busy tourist season. Maine is reporting the second-highest rate of people who are fully vaccinated in the United States, second only to Vermont, according to the Bloomberg News vaccine tracker.

By Sunday morning, Maine had given 715,582 people the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 698,959 had received a final dose.


But there are wide gaps in vaccinations by county. For instance, through Sunday 62.4 percent of residents of Cumberland County having received their final dose, while Piscataquis and Somerset counties reported about 20 percent lower vaccination rates, at 42.8 percent and 41.1 percent getting final doses. Six of Maine’s 16 counties – Cumberland, Knox, Lincoln, Sagadahoc, Hancock and York counties – have final dose immunization rates above 50 percent, while the remaining 10 counties are below 50 percent.

To try to boost vaccination in more rural areas and among populations less likely to get the vaccine, Maine health officials are working with employers to host small vaccine clinics at workplaces. Another strategy is to try to bring vaccine clinics to unconventional places, such as the MaineHealth clinic at Becky’s Diner, where those who got a shot also received a $15 gift card to the diner on the Portland waterfront. Other places where clinics may crop up include breweries and concerts.

Dr. Ashish Jha, a Brown University epidemiologist, tweeted on Saturday that while it is “tempting to look at vaccinations” by state, there’s a “ton of variation within states.”

Jha noted that within Massachusetts, Springfield’s population over age 20 had recorded 55 percent of its population receiving at least the first dose, compared to Newton, which is reporting 93 percent of its population over age 20 has gotten at least the first dose.

“These are stunning differences,” Jha said in a tweet. “Within Massachusetts, we have communities with vaccination rates comparable to Oklahoma and communities that far exceed Vermont.”

Jha noted that the “differences (are) largely driven by education, income, race – all related to access.”


The Kaiser Family Foundation, a public health think tank, reported in a national survey on Friday that people who say they will refuse the COVID-19 vaccine under any circumstances represent 13 percent of the national population. Others may be hesitant or ambivalent about getting vaccinated, but under the right circumstances, such as easy access at the workplace, could be persuaded, health experts have said.

Maine’s cumulative COVID-19 cases rose to 67,738 on Sunday. Of those, 49,616 have been confirmed by testing and 18,122 are considered probable cases of COVID-19. The seven-day average of new daily cases was 108.4, while the 14-day case average was 144.5.

At the height of the pandemic in mid-January, Maine was routinely reporting daily cases above 600, while during a spring surge cases often exceeded 400 per day.

Eight hundred twenty-five people have died with COVID-19 in Maine since the pandemic began.

Youth athletes last week told the Portland Press Herald that the loosening of COVID-19 restrictions had produced an immediate psychological effect.

“When the masks came off and we could see everyone’s faces, it was like I hadn’t seen their faces in years,” said Noah Dreifus, a South Portland High senior who plays as a baseball catcher. “It lifted everyone’s spirits. Things are turning back to normal.”


Along with youth sports, children can go to summer camp without masks – a significant industry in Maine, which boasts over 125. And concert venues have booked events, including Thompson’s Point in Portland and Rock Row in Westbrook.

County by county as of Sunday, there had been 8,265 coronavirus cases in Androscoggin, 1,861 in Aroostook, 17,100 in Cumberland, 1,338 in Franklin, 1,350 in Hancock, 6,480 in Kennebec, 1,130 in Knox, 1,060 in Lincoln, 3,569 in Oxford, 6,151 in Penobscot, 568 in Piscataquis, 1,459 in Sagadahoc, 2,181 in Somerset, 1,020 in Waldo, 895 in Washington and 13,311 in York.

By age, 18.8 percent of patients were under 20, while 18.3 percent were in their 20s, 15.1 percent were in their 30s, 13.5 percent were in their 40s, 14.5 percent were in their 50s, 10.3 percent were in their 60s, 5.3 percent were in their 70s, and 4.2 percent were 80 or older.

The Maine CDC did not provide updated hospitalization data on Sunday, but on Saturday there were 114 people with COVID-19 in Maine hospitals.

Around the world early Sunday evening, there were 170 million known cases of COVID-19 and 3.53 million deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. The United States had 33.2 million cases and 594,414 deaths.

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