Maine hospitals had 201 COVID-19 patients on Friday, a level exceeded only a handful of times during the peak of the surge in January.

And 76 of those patients are in intensive care units, the most in Maine since the pandemic began. The previous high of 72 people was reached Sept. 11.

While the January surge peaked before vaccines were widely available, the current spike comes even as 64.5 percent of the state’s population has been fully vaccinated, as have 73 percent of those 12 and over who are eligible to be vaccinated. The surge is being driven by the highly contagious delta variant, which is mostly taking a toll on the unvaccinated population in Maine and nationwide.

Between 70 and 75 percent of Maine hospital patients, and nearly all of the people in intensive care, have not been fully vaccinated, according to state officials and hospital administrators.

Maine reported another 715 cases of coronavirus Friday and two additional deaths as the state continues to work its way through a backlog of positive test results.

There have been 83,322 cases of the virus and 981 deaths since the start of the pandemic. The number of cases being reported has overwhelmed staff at the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, resulting in daily counts that include cases from days that preceded the typical 24-hour reporting period.

That was the case on Friday, when CDC data showed the cases it reported dated to Sept. 8. A large portion of the new cases – 200 – were reported in Penobscot County.

The seven-day average of daily new cases was 485 on Friday, up from an average of 371 two weeks ago.

A spike in demand for tests is straining supplies and creating some eligibility limits and wait times for appointments. It is accompanied by a rising rate of positive test results, indicating that the virus continues to spread in Maine communities. All Maine counties are now classified as having high or substantial transmission.

The surge comes as young people are returning to school and college.

Maine schools have reported 1,390 cases of COVID-19 in the first weeks of classes, according to a new database of coronavirus cases and outbreaks in schools.

The numbers released Friday by the Maine Department of Education cover the last 30 days and show dozens of schools with open outbreak investigations, including an outbreak of 25 cases at Piscataquis Community Elementary School, 22 cases at the Mildred L. Day School in Arundel and 34 cases at Hermon High School.

The University of Maine System announced Thursday that it will resume daily updates on COVID-19 starting Monday and include the number of active known cases at each university, available isolation and quarantine space, and aggregate COVID-19 testing data.

As of Thursday, there were 57 active known cases of COVID-19 in the university system. Ninety-seven percent of university-administered quarantine space was available and 91 percent of university-administered isolation space was available.

Across the state, 64.5 percent of Maine’s 1.3 million residents are fully vaccinated and 73 percent of those 12 and over are fully vaccinated. Still, disparities exist among age groups and geographic areas. Just 56 percent of people 12 to 19 are fully vaccinated, while 90 percent of Mainers in their 60s and older are fully vaccinated.

Cumberland County has the highest vaccination rate, at 75.7 percent while Somerset County is the least vaccinated county at 51.9 percent.

Across the country, the surge of new cases seems to be slowing. On Friday there were 154,897 new cases reported nationally for a seven-day average of daily new cases of 150,366. That’s down from a seven-day average of 164,382 two weeks ago, according to the New York Times.

Maine’s seven-day average continues to climb, although the state still has a lower infection rate than many other states that have experienced even more intense spikes in cases.

Maine reported an average of 34 new daily infections per 100,000 people over the last seven days, which ranks 41st among the states, according to a tracker published by Brown University School of Public Health. The national average is 45 cases per 100,000 people over the last seven days.


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