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Health

Maine Reports Another Death, CDC Head Urges Mainers To Keep Vaccinations Up To Date

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Robert F. Bukaty
/
Associated Press
Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, speaks at a news conference, Tuesday, April 28, 2020, in Augusta, Maine.

Maine has now had 1,515 cases of COVID-19 over the course of the pandemic, and 66 deaths. That's according to new figures the Maine Center for Disease Control released Wednesday.That's 38 additional cases and one more death since Tuesday. Twenty-three of the new cases and the most recent death occurred in Cumberland County. The person who died was a woman in her 90s, said Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah at a briefing in Augusta Wednesday.

Six new cases were reported in Androscoggin County, five in York County, and the rest occurred in Kennebec, Sagadahoc and Somerset counties.

Shah said no new outbreaks at congregate care facilities have been detected, and said there's no evidence that people are becoming more lax about safety guidelines. He said the increase in cases Wednesday has been attributed mostly to spread of cases within households, rather than community transmission.

"We're seeing a lot are household degrees of transmission, rather than a large amount of community level transmission," Shah says.

He says there could be more cases associated with existing outbreaks, and that it is common for people infected with COVID-19 to spread the disease to other members of their household.

Since the pandemic began 943 Mainer's have recovered from COVID-19, 30 of them since Tuesday, Shah said. A total of 204 people have been hospitalized, and 41 are currently in the hospital, 20 of them in intensive care. Of those, seven are on ventilators.

Shah said going forward the state will change the way it reports testing numbers, counting the number of people tested, rather than the number of tests performed. Currently, 28,257 people have been tested, while 33,035 tests have been used.

He said the feds have notified the CDC that Maine could receive another shipment of the drug remdesivir as early as next week. The first shipment of the antiviral drug arrived yesterday and was distributed to Maine hospitals.  

Additionally, Shah is urging Mainers to keep up to date with their vaccinations as the state reopens because there could be more exposure to communicable diseases other than the new coronavirus.

Across the United States, there has been a sharp decline in childhood immunizations since the pandemic was declared a national emergency, and Shah says he is also seeing concerning signs in Maine.

"Just in the month of March, distribution of vaccines to children who are enrolled in the Vaccines For Children program dropped 28 percent compared to March of last year."

In April, Shah says, there was a 45 percent drop compared to last year. The Vaccines For Children program provides free immunizations for eligible families. Shah says statewide data will not be available until this summer.

Updated May 13, 2020, at 4:44 p.m. ET.

Maine Public digital producer Barbara Cariddi contributed to this report.