Four hundred and twenty-seven new cases (427) of the COVID-19 in the state of Maine were announced by Dr. Nirav Shah, Director of the MaineCDC, at the afternoon briefing today – an astonishing new record for the state of Maine. There are a total of 13,775 cases, 227 deaths and there are 164 hospitalizations today. Forty-five individuals are in ICUs, and 17 are on ventilators currently. There are currently thirty-five cases of the virus at Maine Medical Center, a doubling in numbers from last week.
Dr. Shah also announced that the positivity testing rate for the past seven days is at 4.8%. The national positivity rate stands at 10%. Dr. Shah verified that there are currently about 142 people involved in case investigation and contract tracing positions. MaineCDC continues to train people for these positions. DHHS Director Lambrew said that a new category is being introduced – case notification and that could add some new employees.
Changes to the functioning of MaineCDC were detailed by Dr. Shah. These changes are because of the significant increase in the number of cases recently. Individuals who have been infected with the virus and who fall into high risk groups will continue to receive investigations, while those who do not fall into those categories will receive less intense follow-up. Between 40% to 60% of the daily new cases fall into the high risk group according to Dr. Shah. The latter group will receive notification of their positivity for the virus, but not the same follow-up anticipated for the former group. Dr. Shah urges everyone falling into the latter group to immediately isolate and inform those they’ve been in close contact with of their exposure to the virus because the state will not be doing that for them going forward.
The first group to receive more concentrated attention from the MaineCDC includes: Those younger than 18 and those over 65 years old; health care workers, front line workers; those hospitalized; those who are disabled; those living in congregate settings such as shelters and nursing homes. and school and child care facilities.
Dr. Shah stated that every notification of a new case has to be reviewed by staff to be sure there are no duplicates among them. Currently, the lab has a backlog of 4,000 such reports.
“The last few days have been a surge upon a surge that has prompted us to make changes in how we function. There may be more changes coming, but that depends on the contours here in Maine,” said Dr. Shah in conclusion of the hour long briefing.
The next briefing is scheduled for Wednesday, December 9, at 2:00 pm. It can be viewed on Maine Public Television.