Franklin County saw more cases of COVID-19 in September than any other month since the beginning of the pandemic, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and analysis from the New York Times.

From Sept. 1 to 30, the county recorded 354 new cases of COVID-19, which is the highest single-month record of new cases for the county. The record for the most cases in a single day was also broken on Sept. 28, when 72 new cases were reported there.

Case trends, as measured in the seven-day average of new cases per capita, did not consistently trend upward throughout the month, however. Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah called this a “carousel effect” of the pandemic.

“There tends to be a flare-up, perhaps driven by a particular gathering or sets of gatherings,” Shah said at a media briefing Wednesday. “And then after a high number of folks have been infected because they were susceptible the virus tends to slow back down.”

Consistently over the past month and a half, Maine counties with the lowest vaccination rates were also the counties where the virus was spreading at a faster rate, largely due to the highly contagious delta variant.

Over the past week, case trends in Oxford County have surged ahead of Androscoggin and Franklin counties, as well as trends statewide.


Shah attributed this, too, to the “ebb and flow” of the pandemic and the low vaccination rates.

“It’s a good reminder that the delta variant is different from the virus that we (were) dealing with a year ago,” he said. “We call it COVID-19 still but in truth, it’s ‘COVID-21.’ It’s different from what we contended with a year and change ago. It’s much more contagious, it spreads much more easily.”

As of Wednesday, there were only four counties in the state, including Franklin and Oxford, that had yet to fully vaccinate at least two-thirds of its eligible population, or residents 12 years and older.

In Franklin County, 62.5% of eligible residents, those 12 years and older, were fully vaccinated as of Wednesday. In Oxford County, nearly 64% were fully vaccinated.

In Androscoggin County, 68% of eligible residents were fully vaccinated.

Piscataquis and Somerset counties had lower vaccination rates than Franklin and Oxford. In addition to these areas, cases have been surging in Penobscot County, in particular.


“But we’re not powerless,” Shah said. “Being vaccinated, wearing masks, moving gatherings outdoors as opposed to indoors are all steps that people can take and still gather safely.”

The push to vaccinate some 200,000-plus eligible Mainers is on as the weather gets cooler and people move indoors. New cases are “predominately” driven by community transmission, as opposed to localized outbreaks, Shah said.

Meanwhile, state health officials reported 836 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, including 72 in Androscoggin County, 30 in Franklin County and 44 in Oxford County.

There were 29 additional deaths statewide, 22 of which were a result of the Maine CDC’s periodic review of death certificates and occurred between Sept. 11 and 29.

Two individuals from Androscoggin County, one from Franklin County and one from Oxford County were among the deaths.

Over the seven-day period ending Wednesday, there were an average of 3.99 new daily cases per 10,000 residents of Androscoggin County, 4.44 cases per 10,000 residents of Franklin County and 4.79 cases per 10,000 residents of Oxford County.

Statewide, the seven-day average of new daily cases was 4.42 per 10,000 residents.

The rate of community transmission in the tri-county region of Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford counties – as well as the rest of the state – remained at a high level. The U.S. and Maine CDCs recommend that all people, regardless of vaccination status, wear a mask in indoor, public spaces when community transmission is at a substantial or high level.

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