Eight additional COVID-19-related deaths across the state were reported Wednesday, according to Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

In a media briefing, Dec. 23, Shah also said Maine saw 748 new cases of the virus marking a cumulative total of 20,491 cases. The striking increase in cases, he said, is partly a result of process improvements in the way cases are cataloged at the Maine CDC.

Twelve additional individuals have been hired to help assign cases, he said, and the entire process has been streamlined with IT improvements. While he did call the daily case count “concerning,” Shah said it did not represent a striking increase in a 24-hour period.

The Maine CDC is estimating if all new cases are in a 24-hour period versus in the days leading up to it. Some metrics which the Maine CDC uses to analyze what is going on with the pandemic in Maine have either been steady or slightly improved, he said. The positivity rate, and the number of new positive test results, has “ticked downward,” Shah noted.

“The pandemic does not show signs of accelerating in growth,” he said. “If anything it shows sign of stability….”

Cumulatively, 311 people have died in Maine since the start of the pandemic, and 1,000 people have been hospitalized. In the past 30 days, he said, 314 people have been hospitalized with COVID-19.

“In the nine months where Maine CDC has been working on COVID-19,” he said, “fully one third of all that have been hospitalized have occurred just in the past 30 days.”

Currently there are 187 people hospitalized with 46 in intensive care units and 19 on ventilators.

In Waldo County, 14 new cases were reported since Monday, Dec. 21, marking a cumulative total of 353. In all 17 people have died and currently there are 18 hospitalized along with 130 active cases reported.

Shah said that as of Wednesday, Dec. 23, 8,001 people had received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Out of that total, only one person, a health care worker at Maine Medical Center, had an anaphylactic reaction. The individual reported discomfort within 20 minutes of receiving the vaccine, was treated and spent the night at the hospital for observation, he said.

By the end of this week, Maine will have received 45,650 doses. Of those doses, 35,000 will be available for hospital vaccinations, while approximately 11,000 will go to the pharmacy partnership program servicing nursing facilities.

Shah said Maine would receive 10,725 doses of the Pfizer vaccines, and 8,400 Moderna doses on week three, or  Dec. 28. Approximately 8,000 of the Pfizer vaccines would be utilized in the pharmacy program.

“It’s not what we thought we would be getting,” Shah said.