State reports 295 new COVID-19 cases, no additional deaths

State health officials reported 295 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, the sixth time in the last seven days that daily cases were below 300.

No additional deaths were reported.

The seven-day daily case average now stands at 267, down from 305 two weeks ago and 369 cases this time last month. Since the pandemic began, there have been 65,043 confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 and 798 deaths, according to data tracked by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Hospitalizations had not been updated Thursday morning, but as of Wednesday, there were 122 individuals in the hospital with COVID-19, including 47 in critical care and 25 on ventilators. Daily hospitalizations have been above 120 for 14 consecutive days, the highest sustained levels since early February.

Meanwhile, vaccinations have continued to slow down this week, even as the state has opened eligibility to children between the age of 12-15 following federal emergency use authorization for that age group. As of Thursday, Maine has administered 661,051 first doses, representing 49.2 percent of the state’s population, and 612,791 final doses, accounting for 45.6 percent of residents, although the average number of daily shots has been cut in half since this time last month.

Among those 60 or older, nearly 81 percent are fully vaccinated, but among those between 16 and 39, who have been eligible for more than a month, the percentage that has gotten a first dose is just 42 percent. There continue to be wide variances in vaccination rates by country, ranging from a high of 54 percent overall in Cumberland County to a low of 37 percent in Somerset County.

Despite the slowdown, Maine still ranks among the top states for vaccination rates. Late Wednesday, Gov. Janet Mills announced that the state had reached another milestone — 70 percent of adults have gotten at least one shot, according to the U.S. CDC’s tracker. That percentage takes into account both the number of people age 18 and older who have received at least one dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, and those who have received the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Of the five other states that have reached that threshold, four are in New England. The other is Hawaii.

Other vaccine databases, which use different population and vaccination categories, report slightly different rankings, but all show that Maine and the other New England states are among the best at getting people vaccinated.

“Maine continues to make nation-leading strides in getting shots into arms,” Mills said in a statement. “Maine people, our medical professionals and volunteers across the state, the Maine National Guard, and our teams at the Department of Health and Human Services and the Maine CDC all deserve credit for this achievement.

“There is more work to be done, and we will continue our efforts to make the vaccine more accessible for more people, as we also encourage folks to do their part and roll up their sleeve to help us get back to normal faster.’”

This story will be updated.

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