An additional nine people have died of COVID-19 in Maine, and the state is reporting 219 new cases on Thursday.
It’s not clear when the deaths occurred, but the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention regularly reports deaths in batches after reviewing cases to verify medical information.
The agency is likely to release more details about the fatal cases later Thursday.
Maine continues to have a stable case count, with cases in the 200s for the past six days. The seven-day average of daily new cases stood at 215.1 on Thursday, compared to 266.9 a week ago and 451.6 a month ago.
Since the pandemic began, Maine has recorded 66,534 cases of COVID-19, and 816 deaths.
Meanwhile, the state is edging closer to having 50 percent of Maine’s 1.3 million population fully vaccinated, with 654,984 people, or 48.7 percent of the population, getting final doses through Thursday. Also, 687,229, or 51.1 percent of the population, have received at least their first dose.
Maine is shifting its vaccination strategy to smaller locations, such as doctor’s offices, pharmacies and schools, as large-scale immunization clinics are beginning to close. The Scarborough Downs site operated by MaineHealth, which opened in early February, is closing on Thursday.
“That facility was the right strategy for the moment,” said John Porter, a MaineHealth spokesman. “We had a lot of people extremely eager to get vaccinated as soon as possible.”
But now that demand has weakened, the state is altering its vaccination strategy to bring doses closer to people.
Nearly 2,000 people have taken advantage of a Maine incentive program for people to get their shots.
Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said that 1,739 people have received an incentive in the “Your Shot to Get Outdoors” program, which is available to adults who are being immunized through May 31. The incentives include a $20 L.L. Bean gift card, Maine hunting and fishing licenses, a Maine Wildlife Park pass, a Maine state park day pass, an Oxford Plains Speedway ticket and a Sea Dogs ticket.
One week into the program, the most popular choice is the L.L. Bean gift card, with 734 people, followed by 455 people choosing a fishing license and 174 picking a Maine Wildlife Park pass.
This story will be updated.