A homemade sign advertises masks for sale on the pier at Old Orchard Beach on Tuesday. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

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The number of new coronavirus cases dropped in Maine over the past week, reversing a previous trend of increasing cases attributed to a spread of the virus among young people.

The decline in cases came as Maine continues to expand testing capacity, with more than 15,000 viral tests performed over the past week, up from 12,000 the week prior, according to data from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. That increase in tests meant the positivity rate continued to drop, with 1.5 percent of tests coming back positive over the past week and the overall positivity rate for viral tests dropping below 3.6 percent.

The decline in cases has happened as Maine has continued to resume economic activities, allowing tourists from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut without a virus test or 14-day quarantine and permitting some entertainment businesses to reopen as of July 1.

The improving metrics in Maine also come as the virus has spread rapidly in certain parts of the country, with major flare ups in states including Florida, Texas and Arizona. Maine is one of only 14 states in the U.S. where cases are not increasing, according to the New York Times.

Case counts and secondary metrics, such as the hospitalization rate, continue to indicate that the virus is under control in Maine. The average number of patients hospitalized each day over the past week sat at 25, the lowest it has been since the state began releasing daily data in mid-April.

There was a slight uptick in deaths over the past week, with six deaths over the past week compared to three the week prior to that. Still, the death rate has subsided substantially compared to earlier in the pandemic, with only 11 deaths recorded due to the virus since June 8.