Nearly a quarter of all COVID-19-related deaths of individuals under the age of 60 were residents of Androscoggin, Franklin or Oxford counties.

Recently released data from the Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention shows that as of Tuesday, 52 out of the 231 total deaths from COVID-related causes in individuals under the age of 60 were from the tri-county region.

Of those deaths, 29 individuals were from Androscoggin County, 19 were from Oxford County and four were from Franklin County. More than half of the individuals were men.

Taken individually, Penobscot County had the state’s highest total of COVID-related deaths in that age group, also 52 deaths.

Since the pandemic began nearly two years ago, 1,816 Mainers have died from the disease. While individuals under the age of 20 account for the greatest share of all reported cases, the vast majority of deaths — 87% — have been of Mainers 60 years and older. Individuals 80 years and older account for nearly half of all deaths.

The Maine CDC data, which catalogs deaths in each county by age and gender, also shows that December was the deadliest month for most age groups — including those in their 30s, 40s and 50s — with more deaths recorded that month compared to any other month since the start of the pandemic.


December 2021 was also the deadliest month for Maine overall. As the omicron variant — a strain of the virus more contagious than the already highly transmissible delta variant — raged through the state, 264 Mainers lost their life to COVID-related causes.

It was also the deadliest month for Oxford County. November 2021 was the deadliest month for Androscoggin and Franklin counties by a slight margin.

While the state appears to be on the other side of the omicron-driven surge in hospitalizations, those, too, peaked recently. Last month set a single-day record for COVID-19 hospitalizations, when 436 individuals were hospitalized with the disease on Jan. 13.

Though there were some early reports that the omicron variant caused milder symptoms compared to previous strains of the virus, particularly delta, these data may be proof that even if milder on an individual level, omicron has had severe impacts on a population level.

“Even something that’s milder on an individual level can still have significant impact at a population level,” Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah said at a media briefing last month. “And if you’re the one in the hospital on a ventilator, it’s certainly not mild for you.”

Shah and other public health experts have repeatedly said that the vaccines are the best tool to fight against COVID-19.


Vaccination rates among people under the age of 60 in the tri-county region, particularly in Franklin and Oxford counties, are among the lowest in the state. Booster uptake has been slow as well.

The Maine CDC does not publish data on deaths from breakthrough cases by age.

Data from the U.S. CDC published last month showed that unvaccinated adults were at four times the risk of testing positive for COVID-19 and at 15 times the risk of dying of it compared to fully vaccinated individuals.

The addition of a booster shot proved to be even more effective against COVID-19: Unvaccinated adults were at 13 times the risk of testing positive and 68 times the risk of dying from COVID-19 compared to fully vaccinated and boosted individuals.

Even as omicron, with its high rate of transmissibility and ability to evade immune responses, became the dominant variant in the U.S., primary vaccines and boosters proved to be highly effective against severe illness, officials contend.

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