The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday reported 80 cases of COVID-19 and no new deaths, bringing weekly case averages to lows not seen since October.
Meanwhile, with cases falling and the vaccination rate rising, many Maine schools are planning for five-day weeks of in-person learning this fall. Vaccines are now available for children 12 and older, and the state is offering a pooled testing program for students that can quickly detect COVID-19, allowing for closer contact within schools. Some states, such as Massachusetts, have mandated a return to full-time in-person school, but Maine is leaving the choice to individual districts.
Maine’s cumulative COVID-19 cases rose to 68,232 on Sunday. Of those, 49,927 have been confirmed by testing and 18,305 are considered probable cases of COVID-19. The seven-day average of new daily cases was 69.7, while the 14-day average was 89.1 cases.
Eight hundred thirty-nine people have died with COVID-19 in Maine since the pandemic began.
Physical distancing requirements have limited schools’ ability to return to full capacity, but schools following Maine’s pooled testing program won’t be required to abide by the current limit of 3 feet of distance indoors. Social distancing is still recommended by the Maine Department of Education, however.
As of late May, 14 school districts and 11 individual schools had signed up for the program, which uses nasal swab testing in groups of students as an early detector of COVID-19, followed by individual testing if necessary.
In Cumberland-North Yarmouth’s SAD 51, Superintendent Jeff Porter said schools were planning for five days of in-person education come September — but not the pooled testing program. Less than 30 percent of middle and high school parents responding to a district survey said they were interested in the program.
“I am not recommending pooled testing to be in the reopening plan due to the survey results, but we are leaving the door open to revisit over the summer if there is a change in guidance from the state that may make it worth looking at again,” Porter told the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram.
School officials in Buxton, South Portland and Scarborough, among many others, said they were planning for five days of in-person school this fall.
By Sunday morning, Maine had given 724,198 people the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 718,254 had received a final dose. Out of the state’s population of 1.3 million, 53.88 percent had received a first dose.
Among people 12 and older, the population currently eligible for vaccination, 60.65 percent are now fully vaccinated.
County by county as of Sunday, there had been 8,317 coronavirus cases in Androscoggin, 1,877 in Aroostook, 17,150 in Cumberland, 1,350 in Franklin, 1,361 in Hancock, 6,525 in Kennebec, 1,139 in Knox, 1,065 in Lincoln, 3,604 in Oxford, 6,238 in Penobscot, 572 in Piscataquis, 1,465 in Sagadahoc, 2,239 in Somerset, 1,035 in Waldo, 912 in Washington and 13,383 in York.
By age, 18.8 percent of patients were under 20, while 18.3 percent were in their 20s, 15.2 percent were in their 30s, 13.5 percent were in their 40s, 14.5 percent were in their 50s, 10.2 percent were in their 60s, 5.3 percent were in their 70s, and 4.2 percent were 80 or older.
Updated hospital capacity information wasn’t yet available Sunday morning. Maine hospitals on Saturday had 62 patients with COVID-19, of whom 29 were in intensive are and 16 were on ventilators. The state had 75 intensive care unit beds available of a total 383, and 230 ventilators available of 319. There were also 451 alternative ventilators.
Around the world on Sunday morning, there were 173 million known cases of COVID-19 and 3.72 million deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. The United States had 33.3 million cases and 597,377 deaths.
This story will be updated.