State health officials on Wednesday reported 836 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and 29 additional deaths.
The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention initially reported only 300 cases and nine deaths early Wednesday but then revised those numbers, saying an IT system upgrade did not include all the data processed on Tuesday. The CDC alerted media to the problem late Wednesday morning and released the new data hours later.
The problem with the case count on Thursday comes as the state has been struggling for weeks to process a backlog of positive test reports that has also affected the daily case reports. The daily report on Wednesday also includes cases from several days ago, although a state official said Tuesday that the CDC has significantly reduced the backlog.
The state’s seven-day daily case average increased to 593, up from from 457 two weeks ago and from 316 cases on average this time last month.
Since the pandemic began, there have been 93,201 confirmed or probable cases and 1,065 deaths. One of the deaths reported Wednesday was a person in their 30s, just the fourth such death in Maine.
Despite the high number of new cases and additional deaths, many date back several days and, for deaths, perhaps months. The state periodically reviews death certificates to determine whether an individual had COVID and those deaths are added later.
There are also some small signs that the current surge may be receding.
Maine’s positivity rate, which reflects the percentage of tests coming back positive for coronavirus, has been declining in recent days. The seven-day positivity rate now stands at 4.3 percent, well below the more than 6 percent rate from a couple weeks ago.
Hospitalizations from COVID-19 have been dropping steadily as well. The number of people hospitalized on Wednesday dropped to 166, the lowest it’s been in more than one month. Of those, 51 individuals are in critical care, which is the lowest total since Aug. 22, according to the CDC. Total hospitalizations have decreased by 42 percent since peaking at 235 on Sept. 25, just 11 days ago, and the number in critical care has decreased by 65 percent during that time.
Maine CDC’s lab is also making progress in reducing a backlog of positive cases requiring review to distinguish new infections from repeat positive tests for known cases. The backlog stood at 600 cases on Tuesday, down from roughly 2,500 cases requiring review one week earlier.
Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine CDC, is expected to hold a briefing on the COVID-19 situation in the state at 2 p.m.
On the vaccination front, 74.4 percent of all eligible Mainers had received either both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or the single-shot vaccine produced by Johnson & Johnson as of Wednesday. That figure drops to 65.5 percent when including children under age 12 who are not yet eligible for vaccination.
Maine continues to have among the highest full vaccination rates in the country, trailing only fellow New England states Vermont, Connecticut and Rhode Island.
This story will be updated.