- The 7-day average number of positive COVID-19 cases: 611.3
- The 7-day average number of deaths: 2
- Vaccination rate: 74.1% of eligible Mainers are fully vaccinated
- Hospitalizations: 205 on Sunday, October 3 (down from the high of 235 last week, September 25) ( 64 in the ICU vs. 84 last week; 29 on ventilators vs. 36 last week)
This week’s summary of COVID-19 news reports on the state’s record peak in hospitalizations and COVID-19 boosters for some Mainers.
Higher numbers of COVID-19 cases in youth, however vast majority avoid severe illness
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet approved COVID-19 vaccines for children younger than 12 years old, and without the protection of a vaccine, younger children remain vulnerable to infection with COVID-19 and its Delta variant. School-aged children are also at higher risk of infection because they spend large portions of their day indoors with lots of other children and adults, where they are more likely to be exposed to the virus.
There have been more school outbreaks this fall compared to spring 2021. Fifteen percent of Maine’s schools (108 schools) reported outbreaks as of September 30, 2021. There were 2,578 total cases reported by Maine schools last week. When there are three or more positive COVID-19 cases, the Maine Center for Disease Control (CDC) designates that school as reaching outbreak status.
Despite the number of outbreaks, Dr. Nirav Shah, Director of the Maine CDC, reassured Mainers in his most recent briefing that most children infected with COVID-19 do not require hospitalization. There have only been five children in the past 30 days hospitalized with COVID-19 in the entire state. Since the pandemic’s early days, only 32 children younger than age 18 have required hospitalization in Maine’s hospitals, with nine requiring care in the intensive care unit (ICU).
Even when infected with the Delta variant, children don’t seem to get as sick as adults, and they recover more quickly. However, children can still transmit the virus to vulnerable adults, even without showing symptoms (asymptomatic). Children should be reminded to wash their hands frequently, wear masks indoors in public, and stay home from school or activities if they do not feel well.
Vaccinations and booster shots ramp up in Maine
Health care providers around the state administered more than 6,500 booster shots over the last week, according to the Maine CDC. The boosters are advised for a small number of people based upon risk factors. Doctors are expected to recommend boosters in the coming months for other individuals. Boosters for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines have not yet been approved. However, existing data are reassuring, suggesting that the current COVID-19 vaccines offer a high level of protection from severe COVID-19 illness for at least the first six months after completing the initial vaccination series. More employers are requiring that employees be vaccinated, and this trend is expected to continue.