PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The number of new COVID-19 infections and deaths soared to new heights during a surge of the coronavirus across the state, officials said Friday.
The Maine Center for Disease Control reported 41 deaths and 782 infections, both daily records in the state. The rolling 14-day daily average was 476 infections on Friday compared to 187 infections on Dec. 1.
Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine CDC, predicted that the numbers would grow after holiday travel and gatherings at the end of the year.
The number of deaths was more than double the previously daily high of 20 on Dec. 1. The previous daily record of infections was 748 on Dec. 23.
Friday's high figure does not mean all 41 individuals died on Thursday. That's because the state's tally of the number of deaths is subject to a lag in reporting.
Six of the 41 individuals died within the last 48 hours, Shah said. He said the numbers are a “stark indicator of the toll that COVID-19 is taking on all of us.”
In other pandemic-related news:
New unemployment claims have ticked up in Maine, where the coronavirus pandemic is continuing to have an impact on the job market.
The Maine Department of Labor said there were about 3,900 initial claims for state unemployment insurance during the week that ended Jan. 2. That number was an increase from 2,700 new claims the previous week.
The labor department said a total of 4,300 people filed a new claim or reopened an unemployment claims. That was an increase of 1,000 from the previous week.
It's standard for Maine to see layoffs this time of year due to the end of seasonal jobs, and that has been made worse by the pandemic, the department said.
“Maine’s typically sees increases in state unemployment claims this time of year due to seasonal layoffs that occur every winter, such as in accommodations, eating and drinking places, construction, landscaping, and temporary help,” the department said in a statement. “Some of these industries have seen increased impact due to COVID-19.”
The Maine Red Claws, a minor league affiliate of the Boston Celtics of the National Basketball Association, have canceled their 2021 season.
The Red Claws are part of the NBA G League and play in Portland. Representatives for the club said Friday they “share in our fans' disappointment we will not be having a season in Maine this year” and that work on the 2021-22 season has already started.
The University of Maine also said Friday the school's women’s ice hockey program is dealing with a presumptive positive COVID-19 test. The team's series at Holy Cross, which had been set for Friday and Saturday, will not be played as scheduled, the school said in a statement.
Maine Woodland Owners will hold their annual Forestry Forum on Jan. 21, and event will be completely online for the first time.
The forum usually draws hundreds of people, including woodland owners, forestry professionals, conservationists and members of government. Organizers said the shift to an online event was necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic, and they expect a good turnout despite the change.
Maine Woodland Owners supports some 86,000 family woodland owners in the state.