With the current surge of more contagious strains of COVID-19 in Maine and elsewhere in the Northeast, the state reported 791 new cases of the infectious disease and five additional deaths on Saturday.

Hospitalization numbers remained stable Saturday, as the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported 214 people hospitalized with the coronavirus. Of those, 27 were in critical care and one person was on a ventilator. On Friday there were 215 people in Maine hospitals with the virus.

With infections rising, the nation’s top health officials continue to recommend that people in states like Maine step up efforts to slow the spread by wearing masks indoors, avoiding crowds and testing before indoor gatherings.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said more than 45 percent of the country’s population live where there’s a medium or high risk of COVID-19 transmission. In high-risk counties, “people should be masking,” Walensky tweeted Friday. Those who live in counties with medium-risk levels should consider masking based on personal risk, she said.

In Maine, there are mask mandates for health facilities, some local government offices and public school buildings. On Friday, the city of Portland announced it was once again requiring masks at City Hall.

In most public places, mask mandates have not resumed. In area stores and shops, visits show many shoppers are not returning to masking.


On late Thursday the U.S. CDC listed Maine’s most populated county, Cumberland, as high risk for transmission of the virus, along with eight other counties. That’s a big change compared to April, when all of the state was at low risk of transmission.

In addition to Cumberland, high-risk counties are: Oxford, Androscoggin, Sagadahoc, Lincoln, Knox, Hancock, Penobscot and Aroostook. Medium-risk counties are York, Franklin, Kennebec, Waldo, Piscataquis and Washington. Somerset County is low risk, according to the CDC.

New virus variants are infecting people who have previous immunity, including those who have been vaccinated. Vaccines continue to protect most people against severe illness and hospitalizations, health authorities say. But given how quickly the new variants spread, the virus can be deadly to older people, the unvaccinated or those with underlying medical conditions, they note.

Since the pandemic began in 2020, Maine has recorded 259,058 cases of COVID-19 and 2,343 deaths.

On Sunday in Gorham, a memorial service will be held to remember those who have died with COVID-19, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland announced. The memorial will begin at 2 p.m. at St. Anne’s Church, 299 Main St.

Memorial cards will be available Sunday morning for people to write the name of loved ones to remember. Cards can be dropped into a special basket at the end of Masses that begin at 8 a.m. and 11 a.m.

Each of the names will be read during the 2 p.m. service.

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