Maine reported 20 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and no new deaths.
Since the pandemic began, Maine has had 3,460 total cases of COVID-19. Forty more Maine people were listed as recovered on Wednesday, and there are now 494 active cases of the disease, a decline of 20 from Tuesday.
Dr. Nirav Shah, Maine CDC director, will brief the media at 2 p.m. today.
With 20 new cases, the state has now gone five consecutive days with fewer than 25 new cases.
Although case numbers fluctuate from day to day, Maine has yet to experience the large spikes and record highs being seen in other states, particularly in the South and West. Maine’s infection rate was the seventh-lowest in the nation as of Tuesday, according to The New York Times’ COVID-19 tracking system.
Current hospitalizations stood at 22 on Wednesday, the same as Tuesday. Nine patients were in critical care and four were on ventilators. The number of people in hospitals with COVID-19 peaked in late May, but the daily hospital count has mostly been on a downward trajectory since then.
But concerns remain about the potential for surges in Maine, particularly as residents begin resuming normal activities or socializing with others and as more out-of-state tourists arrive. Visitors from most states are required to have a negative test result no more than 72 hours before arriving in Maine or to self-quarantine for 14 days. But residents of New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey are exempt from those requirements because of low rates in those states.
“The numbers of new positive cases could change for the worse, unfortunately, as has happened at a number of southern and western states across the country,” Shah said during his Monday briefing. “Even though these numbers are encouraging, they are not an occasion to let our guard down. We are still in this.”
Another key metric, the cumulative percent positive rate, stood at 3.58 percent on Wednesday, well below a rate that hovered between 5 and 6 percent in April and May. Shah will likely give an update on the daily percent positive rate and a 7-day average at the 2 p.m. briefing. In other parts of the country where cases are surging, percent positive rates have soared to over 20 percent, particularly in Florida, Arizona and South Carolina.
Even as Maine’s testing capacity has expanded, the percent positive rate has declined, which is a good sign for the state’s ability to find most cases of the disease, trace close contacts and isolate people to prevent disease transmission. If done successfully, the strategy has a chance to substantially drive down cases of COVID-19.
This story will be updated.