The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday reported 147 new cases of COVID-19 and two additional deaths after a winter storm delayed vaccine shipments but not the distribution of shots at Maine clinics.

Maine’s cumulative COVID-19 cases rose to 43,367 on Saturday. Of those, 34,431 have been confirmed by testing and 8,936 are considered probable cases of COVID-19.

Six hundred fifty-eight people have died with COVID-19 since the pandemic began in Maine. The Maine CDC released information about the two people reported to have died without correlating their ages, genders and counties of residence; they were a man and a woman from Oxford County and Waldo County, one in their 60s and the other in their 70s.

The seven-day average of new daily cases fell to 138.4, far below its peak of 625.3 in mid-January and significantly below last weekend’s average, which hovered around 190. In another sign that conditions are improving, the seven-day positivity rate average – the percentage of COVID-19 tests returned positive – has declined to 1.2 percent, according to a tweet by Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine CDC.

A low positivity rate is a good sign because it means that most cases are being detected, which gives public health workers a better chance of using quarantine and isolation strategies to clamp down on the virus. The 1.2 percent is less than half of the 2.7 percent positivity rate two weeks ago, far from the peak of about 6 percent in late December and early January.

In the summer and early fall, positivity rates in Maine were routinely lower than 1 percent, often closer to 0.5 percent.

But unlike last summer, now there’s also a vaccination program to help reduce transmission of the virus.

Widespread winter weather caused delays for delivery of about 6 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, the White House said this past week. The delay was spread across all 50 states, however, and Maine officials said Friday that they had been prepared.

Anticipating a winter storm, Maine CDC officials arranged for vaccine doses to be shipped this past Monday, before snow and freezing rain hit the roads, according to spokesman Robert Long. Only a small number of doses were delayed as a result, Long said.

As of Saturday morning, 196,581 Mainers had received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 90,749 had received their second. Out of Maine’s population of 1.3 million, 14.62 percent have received their first dose, according to Maine CDC statistics.

The Biden administration is expected to ramp up shipments of vaccine doses to states in the coming weeks, with some experts projecting a doubling of weekly doses by the end of March. For the week of Feb. 22, Maine is expected to receive 27,740 doses, a 14 percent increase over the previous week. In addition, a retail pharmacy program operated by the federal government could double the 4,300 weekly doses and add another retail pharmacy partner next week. Currently, Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacies in Maine are permitting those 70 and older to schedule vaccination appointments.

Northern Light Health announced on Thursday that a mass vaccination site at the Portland Expo – also currently slated for the 70-and-older age group – is slated to open on March 2 and will operate on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Sagadahoc County is leading Maine with most immunizations per capita, with 17.53 percent of residents having received a first dose. Close behind is Cumberland County, at 17.25 percent, and Aroostook County at 15.99 percent.

Somerset County is lagging the pack, with only 9.5 percent having received their first dose.

County by county as of Saturday, there had been 4,684 coronavirus cases in Androscoggin, 1,254 in Aroostook, 12,197 in Cumberland, 880 in Franklin, 871 in Hancock, 3,537 in Kennebec, 620 in Knox, 563 in Lincoln, 2,152 in Oxford, 3,759 in Penobscot, 244 in Piscataquis, 865 in Sagadahoc, 1,229 in Somerset, 572 in Waldo, 698 in Washington, and 9,240 in York.

By age, 15.2 percent of patients were under 20, while 18.1 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, 6.6 percent were in their 70s, and 5.6 percent were 80 or older.

Of the 75 patients with COVID-19 in Maine hospitals on Saturday, 24 were in intensive care and six were on ventilators. The state had 108 intensive care unit beds available of a total 390, and 253 ventilators available of 319. There were also 446 alternative ventilators.

Around the world on Saturday evening, there were 110.9 million known cases of COVID-19 and over 2.4 million deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. The United States had 28 million cases and 497,345 deaths.

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