AUGUSTA — Waldo County remains a hot spot in the statewide surge, with 50 cases per 10,000 residents as of Aug. 13, the most of any county in Maine.

Maine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating an outbreak associated with Calvary Chapel Belfast in Searsmont, which had 15 reported cases of COVID-19 last week. As of Saturday, there had been 1,344 coronavirus cases in Waldo County, including nine cases reported among staff at Waldo County General Hospital.

In an announcement Aug. 13, Robert Long, communications director for the state Department of Health and Human Services, said the state’s seven-day PCR positivity rate was 3.65 with one additional death, an Aroostook County woman in her 60s.

Maine had recorded 863 “breakthrough” cases of the coronavirus in fully vaccinated people as of Friday, the CDC said, although unvaccinated people still make up the vast majority of new cases. COVID-19 vaccines provide strong protection against serious illness even if a vaccinated person catches the disease.

Waldo County General Hospital in Belfast closed its operating room for a day last week after the outbreak there. Spokeswoman Jenifer Harris told The Journal Aug. 16 that nine cases were reported in total at WCGH, apparently stemming from exposure in the greater Waldo County community. After the one-day OR closure there were no additional positive tests among staff, she said, “and now everything is back to normal — with all the same precautions” in place as before, including masks.

A post on Calvary Chapel Belfast’s Facebook page early Friday afternoon, Aug. 13, reminded its members of Sunday services in person Aug. 15  at 8 a.m., 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m., with child care provided. “If you or your child are showing any symptoms of sickness we ask that you please stay home until you are better,” the post said. “See you SUNDAY.”

A reader posted the question Saturday, ‘Why are you having in person services while your parishioners are in the middle of an outbreak?” to which an apparent church member replied, “The church has been closed for almost 2 weeks as of today. This is a satisfactory amount of time based on CDC guidelines.”

Republican Journal attempts to reach the Calvary Chapel Belfast pastor for comment have been unsuccessful.

According to a Portland Press Herald story Aug. 13, Maine’s cumulative COVID-19 cases had risen to 72,521. Of those, 52,676 were confirmed by testing and 19,845 were considered probable cases of COVID-19. The seven-day average of new daily cases was 173.5, and the 14-day average was 147.

Nine hundred four people have died of COVID-19 in Maine since the pandemic began.

Five Maine counties — Waldo, Knox, Somerset, Penobscot and Piscataquis — were listed in the Maine CDC’s “high” transmission range as of Saturday. Except for Kennebec County, which has moderate transmission, all other Maine counties show substantial transmission, the threshold at which the Maine CDC recommends that the vaccinated wear masks indoors.