Maine reported 59 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, the largest one-day spike in new cases since May.
York, Cumberland and Androscoggin counties reported the bulk of new cases, with 16 in York, 15 in Cumberland and 14 in Androscoggin. No additional deaths were reported.
The seven-day daily average of new cases stood at 33, compared to 36.1 on Sept. 23.
Pedestrians pass each other on Oak Street in downtown Portland on Monday. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer
The last time Maine reported more than 50 cases in one day was 51 cases on Sept. 2, and the last time the daily case numbers surpassed Wednesday was on May 22, when 65 cases were reported. The largest one-day spike in daily new cases was 78, which occurred on May 19.
The net new cases on Wednesday – when taking into account probable cases from previous days that later were found to be negative – was 54, according to the Maine CDC.
More schools are starting to report outbreaks, including 18 cases at Sanford High School and Sanford Regional Technical Center. Last week, the Maine CDC conducted on-site testing of all students and staff at the 1,000-student high school.
New outbreaks and individual COVID-19 cases have also been reported in greater numbers in several school districts over the past week. Recent schools that have reported cases include Freeport middle and high schools, Massabesic Middle School, Mountain Valley High School in Rumford, Yarmouth schools, Maranacook Community Middle School in Kennebec County and others.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday that the incidence of COVID-19 in school-age children began rising in early September as many youths returned to their classrooms. Children now make up 10 percent of all cases, up from 2 percent in April, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Dr. Nirav Shah, Maine CDC director, said at a media briefing on Tuesday that a shipment of 26,000 antigen tests from Abbott Laboratories will be arriving in Maine soon, possibly within the next week.
Shah said the U.S. CDC has directed that, for the Abbott tests, the “principal use be in cases in and among schools.”
He said the state is working on a plan to quickly distribute the tests to school districts.
The Illinois-based company, which has a lab and manufacturing plant in Scarborough and a manufacturing plant in Westbrook, landed a $750 million contract with the federal government in August to produce 150 million tests nationwide. The tests cost $5 each and can produce results from a less-invasive nasal swab within 15 minutes.
Maine’s testing capacity continues to expand, with 432 tests given per 100,000 population, compared to about 250 tests given per 100,000 population in late August. Maine has ramped up its testing capacity by adding 27 “swab and send” sites statewide, where people can obtain tests without a doctor’s note and have results usually within 48 hours.
Current hospitalizations on Wednesday were 13 statewide, including seven patients in intensive care.
This story will be updated.