LEWISTON – Upward of 20,400 Lewiston residents are still unvaccinated, according to ZIP code-level data recently published by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
In addition to offering county-level geographical data on vaccination rates, the Maine CDC launched a new dashboard Monday that gives a town-by-town look at vaccination rates and an estimate of the number of unvaccinated residents of all ages.
Each municipality is also given a designation that will help state health officials tailor vaccination strategies to specific areas, Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah said at a media briefing Wednesday.
A green or yelLow designation means that more than 60% of a municipality’s residents have received at least one dose of the two-shot Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, or received the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Green means there are less than 2,000 residents remaining to get vaccinated and yellow means there are more than 2,000 residents.
A red or blue designation means that less than 60% of residents are vaccinated. Blue means there are less than 2,000 residents unvaccinated and red means there are more than 2,000 residents. Blue and red designations mean there are high numbers of unvaccinated people there.
“The areas in red are where we are running toward first,” Shah said.
The vaccination rate in Lewiston is 54.1%. Lewiston, along with Greene, Lisbon, Lisbon Falls, Livermore Falls, Poland, Sabattus and Turner in Androscoggin County, are all in the red.
Auburn’s vaccination rate is 60.7% with an estimated 11,400 to 11,599 residents unvaccinated, giving it a yellow designation.
Durham, Leeds, Livermore, Mechanic Falls and Minot are the only areas in the county with low numbers of unvaccinated people.
The ZIP code data will be updated every two weeks, Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Dr. Jeanne Lambrew said.
In Androscoggin County, 43.7% of residents of all ages have gotten at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine and 39.7% have received their final shots.
Those numbers increase to 51.1% for first shots and 46.3% for final shots when only considering Androscoggin County residents 12 years and older, or the population eligible to receive a vaccine.
Oxford and Franklin counties’ vaccination rate is lower than Androscoggin’s in terms of both the percentage of the entire population and just those eligible to receive the vaccine.
Shah said at Wednesday’s briefing that since April 1, 45% of all new cases of COVID-19 across the state are among Mainers 29 years of age and younger.
The disease is “affecting young people more systematically,” he said. The high case count is likely related to the lower rates of vaccine uptake among those groups, which is partially due to the fact that these groups only became eligible for the vaccine within the past month or so.
But Shah said that Mainers in those age groups should be comforted knowing “you’ve got a tool to protect yourself, which is getting vaccinated.”
Lambrew, the DHHS commissioner, also announced Wednesday a new initiative from the state that gives organizations with at least 10 people who need to get vaccinated the opportunity to request an onsite clinic free of charge.
At this stage in the vaccination effort, “we’re not just expecting people to come to site, but moving sites to where the people are,” Lambrew said.
Meanwhile, state health officials reported 202 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday, including 40 in Androscoggin County and five each in Oxford and Franklin counties.
The seven-day average of new cases across the state and in central and western Maine are continuing to trend down, but Lambrew said at the briefing that “today’s case numbers alone are an indication that we have more work to do.”
The statewide cumulative case rate Wednesday was 495.5 cases per 10,000 people. Androscoggin County still has the highest case rate among Maine’s 16 counties with 749.3 cases per 10,000 people.
Oxford County has the third highest case rate, or 606.4 cases per 10,000 people. Franklin County is sixth highest in the state and just below the statewide rate at 439.5 cases per 10,000 people.
There were two additional deaths Wednesday, both women, one in their 60s and one in their 70s. They were from Waldo and York counties.
On Tuesday, the state reported two deaths, both men, from Androscoggin and Oxford counties. One was in his 50s and one was in his 60s.
There were 107 hospitalizations across the state Wednesday, including 41 patients in critical care and 20 on a ventilator.
At Lewiston’s Central Maine Medical Care, there were 15 in-patients with confirmed COVID-19. Six patients were listed in non-critical care, six in the intensive care unit and an additional three patients on ventilators. CMMC’s 30-bed intensive care unit was full Wednesday, according to data collected daily by the Maine CDC, though not all beds were filled with COVID-19 patients.
For comparison, the state’s largest hospital, Maine Medical Center in Portland, reported 34 confirmed COVID-19 in-patients Wednesday. There were 11 patients in the 114-bed intensive care unit and seven on ventilators.
There were two COVID-19 patients at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center in Lewiston, one in noncritical care and one in critical care. There were no patients on ventilators as of Wednesday morning.