LEWISTON — The rate of new COVID-19 cases in Androscoggin County has doubled since last week, reflecting troubling trends across the state.

On Thursday, state officials reported 624 new cases, the highest single-day total since the peak of the pandemic in January. A majority of Maine counties have seen seven-day averages double since last week.

In Androscoggin County, those numbers went from an average of 43 cases per 100,000 people on Aug. 23, to 82 on Thursday.

The average effectively doubled in a five-day span last week, and has fluctuated slightly this week. But, Androscoggin County is not an outlier.

Neighboring counties have seen a similar upward arc. Cumberland County has gone from a seven-day average of 48 on Aug. 23 to 117 on Thursday.

Aroostook, Penobscot and Piscataquis counties have seen the largest jump in cases. Since Aug. 23, the seven-day average in Aroostook County has gone from 141 to 353.

Yet, other neighbors to Androscoggin County have not reported the same jump in case rates. That includes Oxford County, where the seven-day average has remained the same, 74, since last week despite a brief upward blip.

In Franklin County, the average has grown from 80 on Aug. 23 to 120 on Thursday.

Statewide, the seven-day average stood at 316 on Thursday, which is nearly double the average two weeks ago.

Asked Thursday about what’s driving the rising averages, Maine Center for Disease Control spokesman Robert Long said, “the delta variant is driving widespread community transmission among unvaccinated individuals throughout Maine.”

During a CDC media briefing Thursday, Director Nirav Shah said the state is investigating 33 specific outbreaks, 19 of which involve health care facilities or group homes. He said almost all have begun with unvaccinated individuals, “underscoring the focus on making sure health care workers are vaccinated.”

As of Thursday, 160 people were hospitalized in Maine, an increase of 10 since Wednesday. Two weeks ago, 93 people were hospitalized.

Thursday’s numbers also show a majority of cases within the 20 to 40 age groups. Of the 624 new cases, 408 were in people 49 and younger.

People under 20 accounted for 98 cases.

FIRST CASE IN LEWISTON SCHOOLS 

Despite it only being the first week of school, several Maine school districts reported COVID-19 cases Thursday. That included Lewiston, where Superintendent Jake Langlais reported a positive case at McMahon Elementary School.

In a letter to parents, he said a student in attendance Wednesday — the first day of school — was tested late in the day as a precaution after what seemed like “heightened allergy/asthma-like symptoms.” The test was positive.

As a result, he said, students who were within 3 feet of the student for 15 minutes or more in the school are considered close contacts and in need of quarantine until Sept. 12.

Langlais said if the district was not masking, each classroom space that hosted the student during the day would need to fully quarantined. The district also plans to roll out pooled testing soon.

Related Headlines


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.