Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said Monday, Nov. 23, there were 185 new COVID-19 cases across the state since yesterday. Of this total, 26% are from York County and 23% are from Cumberland County.

One new death was reported, a man in his 50s from Lincoln County. The death is the 177th in the state since the pandemic began.

Since the last update Friday, Nov. 20, Waldo County has added 11 cases of COVID-19, with a new cumulative total of 213. Currently there are 36 active cases, with three new cases since yesterday. Fifteen people are currently in the hospital and 16 people have died from the virus in the county.

Across the state, 103 people are hospitalized, 45 are in intensive care units and 11 are on ventilators.

The Maine CDC has recorded 15 new outbreaks across the state since yesterday, including: Newton Center nursing home in Sanford with 10 cases; Barron Center, three cases; Cintas uniform facility in Portland, four cases; Gray Birch nursing home in Augusta, 22 cases; and Hutamaki paper facility in Waterville, eight cases.

Also, Bankers Life and Casualty, three cases; Doolin's Pub in Litchfield, four cases; First Baptist Church in Cherryfield, five cases; Lewiston Fire Department, seven cases; and Nate Holyoke Builders in Bucksport, four cases.

In addition, there are new investigations into the ND Paper facility in Rumford, which is reporting three cases; Noble High School in North Berwick, three cases; Skowhegan Middle School, four cases; and Winterberry Heights Assisted Living facility, 10 cases.

Shah said in the last several weeks the number of positive lab reports has risen by 60%. One week the CDC reported 165 positive tests, then next week 218 and the next 265.

Because of the increasing rate of cases, Shah said, the Maine CDC will begin a new protocol of contacting individuals only once after they have tested positive for the disease.

"We will not continue to touch base with individuals throughout the course of their illness," he said. The initial call will give people guidance to stay safe in isolation, include social services information and ask questions about who they were in contact with.

Shah said the CDC has hired 40% more contact tracers, but that the virus is spreading "faster than the states can train and deploy new public health investigators.

"We want to focus our efforts on the highest-risk, most vulnerable population," he said.

A plan for vaccination efforts is underway, Shah said, with an anticipated date in spring or early summer of next year for administration to the general public. Additional federal funding is needed, he said, to vaccinate with "velocity and equity."

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