Maine pandemic: zip-code data released; hospitalizations, testing updates

In this week of civil rights protests, police violence, and militarized deployments in major cities it’s been hard to remember there’s a deadly, once-in-a-century pandemic going on, but amazingly there is.

Here are a few developments I covered this week on the pandemic here in Maine.

Wednesday morning I reported on how Maine remains the only state in the country unable to compile negative testing data (and, thus, the positivity rate) each day, and why this is a problem. (It’s an issue we’ve been covering for weeks.) Good news: later that day, the agency quietly updated its cumulative testing data for second day running – making it possible to subtract cases from the day before and calculate the rate. It also updated it Thursday and Friday, so it looks like it may have made good on promises to start reporting the data every day, though its not archived on their website and prior data hasn’t yet been broken out by day. Stay tuned for a story on this.

Wednesday evening, the agency began reporting cumulative case counts by zip code for some parts of the state. My analysis was up at the Press Herald Thursday morning and notes that a zip code in Lewiston has the highest number of cases, one in downtown Portland has the highest prevalence; that Portland as a whole has the most cases, but only the fifth highest per capita load, and that the northern Maine town of Medway, of all places, has the highest per capita load of any municipality.

Our weekly update on Covid-19 hospitalizations-by-hospital was up on Friday and showed inpatient levels generally flat, except at the state’s largest hospital, Maine Medical Center, where they fell dramatically from pandemic peak levels (c. 35/day) to 10, the lowest since March 24, when the crisis was just beginning in Maine. Story discusses why this is and updates recent county-level new case trends in southern Maine.

More to come. Thanks for reading, and if you value what this pretty small newspaper does, consider supporting it, so it can continue.