The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday reported 164 cases of the novel coronavirus and four additional deaths as the trend in lower case counts continued one day after state officials cleared every county in the state for in-person school instruction.

Maine officials on Friday cited comparatively low case counts and the expected arrival of more vaccine doses in moving all 16 counties to the lowest-risk “green” category. Androscoggin, Franklin, Oxford and York Counties previously had been designated “yellow,” which means a mix of in-person and virtual instruction is recommended.

The state’s cumulative coronavirus cases rose to 42,419 on Saturday. Of those, 33,823 have been confirmed by testing and 8,596 are considered probable cases of COVID-19. The seven-day average of daily new cases was 195 on Saturday, compared to 625.3 at its peak on Jan. 14.

Six hundred forty-seven people have died with COVID-19 since the pandemic began in Maine. The Maine CDC released generalized information about the deceased, without correlating by person: three were women and one was a man; two were Penobscot County residents, one a Franklin County resident and one a Kennebec County resident; and one was in their 70s, while the rest were 80 or older.

Gov. Janet Mills on Friday also eased restrictions on gatherings at places of worship, which may now welcome five people per square foot of indoor space, or 50 people, whichever is greater.

The rosier outlook this past week was tempered, however, by news that a variant of COVID-19 first identified in the United Kingdom had arrived in Maine. The coronavirus strain known as B.1.1.7 is significantly more transmissible than the version Mainers have come to know, but apparently no more resistant to the vaccines now in distribution.

 

As of Saturday, 169,429 Mainers had received the first dose of a vaccine against COVID-19 and 68,018 had received a second, according to Maine CDC statistics. Of Maine’s total population of 1.34 million, 12.6 percent now have received their first dose.

On Saturday morning, Mills and Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine CDC, toured Northern Light Health’s community vaccination site at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. It is set up to vaccinate at least 1,000 Maine people a day, Northern Light Health said.

Maine officials this past week announced that they had bought more than 2 million N95 respirators that have been revealed to be potentially counterfeit. Federal authorities are investigating a huge foreign-made knockoff operation that sold fake masks to several states, including Minnesota, New Jersey, Ohio and Washington.

Maine officials did not reveal how much they had paid for those masks, but said they had referred the case to federal authorities. Roughly 161,000 of the masks have been distributed to Maine health care facilities, state workers and school nurses since November.

Gov. Janet Mills and Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, tour Northern Light Health’s community vaccination site at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor on Saturday morning. Benjamin Speed/Northern Light Health

County by county in Maine since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been 4,593 coronavirus cases in Androscoggin, 1,221 in Aroostook, 11,934 in Cumberland, 866 in Franklin, 847 in Hancock, 3,453 in Kennebec, 603 in Knox, 539 in Lincoln, 2,111 in Oxford, 3,674 in Penobscot, 241 in Piscataquis, 847 in Sagadahoc, 1,205 in Somerset, 562 in Waldo, 691 in Washington and 9,032 in York.

By age, 15.1 percent of patients were under 20, while 18 percent were in their 20s, 14.4 percent were in their 30s, 13.1 percent were in their 40s, 15.3 percent were in their 50s, 11.7 percent were in their 60s, 6.7 percent were in their 70s, and 5.7 percent were 80 or older.

Of the 100 patients with COVID-19 in Maine hospitals on Saturday, 27 were in intensive care and nine were on ventilators. The state had 113 intensive care unit beds available of a total 393, and 244 ventilators available of 319. There were also 446 alternative ventilators.

Around the world late Saturday afternoon, there were over 108.4 million known cases of COVID-19 and close to 2.4 million deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. The United States had 27.5 million cases and 483,544 deaths.

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