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Coronavirus cases in Maine ticked up slightly over the past week after a period of extended decline, though the state has continued to expand testing with hospitalizations and rates of positive tests low and mostly flat.
There were 171 new cases of the virus confirmed among Mainers over the past week, up from 147 the previous week and 129 the week before that. The uptick comes weeks after Maine resumed many economic activities and as more tourists have been allowed into the state due to relaxed testing requirements for visitors from other states with low case rates.
But Maine’s case counts remain significantly lower than most other states. Over the past week, only Vermont has seen fewer new cases per capita than Maine, according to the New York Times, and the rise in cases here and in the Northeast at large is minimal compared to the exponential growth seen in states like Arizona and Florida earlier this month.
So far, tourism industry activities have not been linked to any virus outbreaks, though there have been several workplace-related outbreaks over the past week, including at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston and Hancock Foods, a blueberry processing company in Hancock.
Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said Tuesday that only 145 out-of-state residents have tested positive for the virus in Maine since the agency began tracking cases in March. Since the beginning of July, there have been 38 cases confirmed among out-of-state residents and 541 cases among Mainers, according to state data.
The state has also continued to expand testing, with a handful of swab-and-send sites already open and more set to open this week, Health Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew said Tuesday.
Those sites will build on a testing stock that has continued to grow. More than 17,000 viral tests were performed each of the past two weeks, according to state data, up from 15,000 earlier this month and 12,000 in the last week in June.
The positivity rate, the percentage of tests coming back positive each day, has hovered around 1 percent over the past few weeks. As of Tuesday, the seven-day positivity rate over the past week was 1.08 percent, Shah said. The relative consistency of the positivity rate in recent weeks suggests that the coronavirus situation in Maine has not changed significantly of late.
Coronavirus hospitalizations have remained relatively low, with only 11 people currently hospitalized statewide for the virus as of Wednesday. Hospitalizations have remained roughly flat over the past two weeks, but are down significantly from earlier in the outbreak, when more than 60 people were hospitalized simultaneously in April.