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While much of the country sees a surge in new coronavirus cases, Maine’s infections are continuing to trend in the opposite direction. The state saw the number of new cases continue to fall over the past week even as the state maintained its ramped-up level of testing.
The state also met a virus-related goal it had set for itself over the past week, with less than 2 percent of virus tests conducted in that time coming back positive.
Maine continues to contend with outbreaks of the virus, including a new one connected to two ambulance crews in Houlton that has caused Aroostook County to see an increase in active infections in recent days. But the statewide data suggest the spread of the virus is still slowing in Maine — even though a distinct risk of infection remains.
Maine reported 181 new cases of the coronavirus over the past week, down from 199 last week and 219 the week before, according to Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention data. And the number of active cases has also trended downward in that time.
That downward trend has also applied to the three Maine counties that have been responsible for more than 80 percent of the state’s coronavirus infections: Cumberland, York and Androscoggin. Those three counties on Wednesday had 370 active cases, down from 480 at the beginning of last week, when restaurants there were allowed to reopen for indoor service.
The shrinking number of new cases came as the state performed about the same number of tests as it did the previous week. Nearly 10,100 viral coronavirus tests were conducted over the past week, about the same figure as the week before, and up from 9,400 in the prior week. Maine saw an increase in new cases in mid-May as it started testing a broader cross-section of the population, but the state has consistently seen new cases drop in recent weeks as increased testing has continued.
Those figures put Maine’s positivity rate at 1.83 percent for the past week, according to Maine CDC Director Nirav Shah, down from 2.5 percent the previous week. Shah has set a sub-2 percent test positivity rate as a goal for the state, with a low positivity rate showing that the state is conducting enough tests to more closely track the spread of the virus. That close tracking is essential to containing the virus’ spread, so people who are infected know to isolate themselves from others and avoid spreading it to others.
The state’s cumulative positivity rate since the virus was first detected in Maine in March now stands at 4.1 percent, according to the Maine CDC. That’s down from 4.3 percent a week ago.
Shah on Wednesday pointed out that the state had met its sub-2 percent goal for the week, but said, “We still have more work to do, of course.”
The U.S., meanwhile, has tested more than 27 million people, with about 2.3 million – or 8.4 percent — testing positive, according to the Associated Press.
An increase in coronavirus-related hospitalizations has followed the growth in new cases in much of the country. But hospitalizations in Maine have remained steady over the past week. On Wednesday, 26 people were hospitalized. The state averaged about 2 new hospitalizations per day over the past week, according to the Maine CDC.