The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported 12 additional cases of COVID-19 on Thursday as the state continues to see low infection rates headed into the busy summer season.
The 12 cases reported Thursday was the lowest daily figure since September 28. There were no additional deaths reported.
The seven-day case rate fell to 26.3 on Wednesday, which is the lowest weekly average in Maine since last September. That seven-day figure has been dropping steadily since early May, when the Maine CDC was averaging more than 10 times as many cases daily. The highest case rates of the now 15-month-long pandemic occurred in January, when new cases repeatedly topped 800 in a day.
At the same time, Maine CDC director Dr. Nirav Shah on Wednesday echoed concerns raised by his federal counterparts that a new variant of the coronavirus, known as the delta variant, could pose a threat to the state’s progress. While the current vaccines available in the U.S. appear to be protective against the delta variant, more than 40 percent of Maine’s population — and roughly 35 percent of those age 12 and older who are eligible — have yet to be fully inoculated against the disease.
Only four cases of the delta variant have been identified in Maine to date through genetic sequencing of a sampling of positive test results, although Shah said Wednesday that figure is “almost certainly an undercount.”
“To date, the delta variant is the most concerning variant that has been described and the one that, again, threatens to undermine the work we have done collectively over the past 15 or 16 months,” Shah said during his weekly briefing. “I strongly recommend, more so than ever, that again if you have been waiting on the sidelines determining whether or not to get vaccinated . . . now is the best time to do so.”
Health providers had administered a total of 1,511,190 shots in the state since the campaign began in mid-December. Among those, 770,961 shots were final doses of either the two-shot regimen for the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or the single-shot vaccine produced by Johnson & Johnson.
Maine has the second-highest full vaccination rate in the country after Vermont, followed by the other New England states and New Jersey, according to tracking by Bloomberg.
Maine CDC has reported 856 COVID-related deaths since the virus was first detected in the state in March 2020 as well as 68,889 confirmed or probable cases of the disease.
This story will be updated.