Maine reported another 883 COVID-19 cases and an increase in hospitalizations Tuesday, but the rate of new infections varies widely across the state and closely corresponds with vaccination rates.

The county with the highest vaccination rate – Cumberland County at 76.8 percent of its total population – has the lowest case count per capita, with 173.2 cases per 100,000 people over a seven-day period.

On the other hand, Somerset County is the least immunized – 54.7 percent of residents have been fully vaccinated – and has the highest rate of COVID-19 infections, with 477.4 cases per 100,000 population.

Lincoln County, the second most vaccinated county in Maine at 72.4 percent, also has the third-lowest case rate over the seven-day period, at 205 cases per 100,000. Franklin County is the third lowest-vaccinated county in Maine with 56.4 percent vaccinated, and reported the second-highest case rate at 463.6 cases per 100,000. Sagadahoc County also has high vaccination and low case rates.

Some counties cut against the overall trend. Knox County, which reports 71.2 percent of its population fully vaccinated, has a relatively high case rate at 314.3 cases per 100,000 residents.

In a tweet Sunday, Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, cited U.S. CDC data showing that unvaccinated people are six times more likely to test positive for COVID-19 than those who are immunized, and are 11 times more likely to die from the disease.

“These data are further evidence of what scores of clinical trials have shown: vaccines significantly reduce the risk of COVID-19 illness and death,” Shah said in a tweet. “They lead to one question: if you are not vaccinated, what additional data would you need to convince you to get a shot?”

About 896,000 Maine residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, or 66.6 percent of the state’s 1.3 million population.

 

The state reported 883 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, and seven additional deaths. The state does not report cases over the weekend, so Tuesday’s numbers reflect cases from Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

If there is no backlog and the report includes all of the cases submitted to the state through Monday, the numbers over the weekend represent a slight downturn in cases. Last week was the first time in several weeks that the Maine CDC did not have a backlog of cases that affected daily case reports.

The seven-day average of daily new cases stood at 528.6 on Tuesday, compared to 370.3 a week ago and 484.6 a month ago.

Since the pandemic began, Maine has logged 98,607 positive cases of COVID-19, and 1,102 deaths.

Some health care providers are warning that they may be short-staffed if they lose unvaccinated workers once the state’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers takes effect Oct. 29. Among those concerned about workforce shortages are some nursing homes, nonprofit agencies that run group homes for adults with intellectual disabilities, EMS providers and Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston.

Central Maine Medical Center officials are working with state leaders to try to alleviate a loss in services, such as neonatal intensive care, pediatric care at the hospital and trauma care.

Also Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an emergency appeal of the Maine vaccine requirement by foes of the mandate.

Meanwhile, hospitalizations continue to increase, with 203 people hospitalized Tuesday, compared to 152 statewide two weeks ago. On Tuesday, 67 patients were in critical care for COVID, and 30 were on a ventilator.

John Porter, spokesman for MaineHealth, said officials there are still trying to determine if recent hospitalizations are a sign of increased virus spread or if there are other factors at play, including whether there are difficulties with discharging patients.

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