State health officials reported 104 additional cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday along with three other deaths among Mainers who have contracted the viral disease.
The number of new coronavirus infections in Maine continues to be declining, with a seven-day average falling from 234 new cases on February 10 to a daily average of 145 new cases for the week ending Wednesday. This is four times lower than the peak, the seven-day average of 625 new cases reported daily on January 15th.
The total number of vaccine doses administered in Maine stood at 255,849 as of Wednesday morning, an increase of approximately 6,000 doses as of Tuesday. More than 13 percent of Maine’s population has received at least one dose of the vaccine while state health officials target residents aged 70 or older.
The three additional deaths reported Wednesday raised the total in Maine since last March to 654. The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention said the three individuals, two women and a man, were Cumberland County residents who were in their 80s. Theirs.
Despite the improvement in numbers, Maine Gov. Janet Mills extended the state’s civil status declaration for another 30 days on Wednesday, in line with most other states. Mills has used state law on emergency declarations over the past year to impose public health requirements, such as restrictions on businesses, size limits at rallies, testing or quarantine requirements for overseas visitors, and face mask mandates. for individuals in public settings.
“Maine continues to see improved public health metrics as we turn the corner on the latest waves,” Mills said in a statement. “Importers are still important as we face a variant of the virus and as we work around the clock to vaccinate as many people as possible, so that the people of Maine can continue to be vigilant. I urge all Maine people to take the steps we know that keep everyone safe to wear your mask, wash your hands, watch your distance, and avoid meetings. These things will keep us all safe during the pandemic and give us a better view of getting back to normal faster. “
Maine and states across the country have seen a significant drop in new cases in recent weeks.
In early mid-January, Maine experienced many days when new cases exceeded 700 or 800 cases, although Wednesday’s seven-day average of 145 is still twice as high as in early November and seven times higher. than in August. There were 91 people hospitalized nationwide with COVID-19 on Wednesday from a peak of 207 hospitalizations on Jan. 13 with 24 of those 91 in critical care and nine connected to a ventilator.
But state and national public health officials are concerned about possible overvoltages caused by the more easily transmitted types of the virus.
On Tuesday, the Maine CDC reported a second infection with a variant first identified in the UK, known as B.1.1.7, which the study shows is even more contagious. Across the country, there were 1,277 cases of the UK variant in 42 countries as of Tuesday, as well as more than 20 cases of other variants first documented in South Africa and Brazil.
“There is reason for optimism on the horizon,” Dr Nirav Shah, director of the Maine CDC, said Tuesday as he noted declines in hospitalizations and deaths along with rising vaccinations. “The reason why my optimism is not unqualified is because of these new variants.”
The Maine vaccination campaign, meanwhile, continues to target older Mainers who face the highest risk of serious complications or death if COVID-19 is contracted.
To date, a total of 255,849 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Maine. That figure includes the first 180,465 doses as well as 75,384 second doses, according to the latest figures from the Maine CDC.
Maine is currently in Phase 1B of its vaccination plan focused on individuals aged 70 and over and is expected to start offering vaccines to 65-69 year olds next month. More than 44 percent of the approximately 193,000 Mainers within that age group 70+ had received at least one dose since Wednesday, with nearly 7 percent fully vaccinated.
However, a small number of Mainers between the ages of 65 and 69 may find themselves acceptable, at the last second, for shots fired under the new direction by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.
Doses should be administered within six hours of opening the vial in order to avoid breaking the vaccine. On Tuesday, DHHS issued a “new effective and comprehensive use policy” for COVID vaccines that would allow clinic operators to offer “a small portion of available doses at the end of a clinic” to individuals who are not registered for inoculation that day.
First priority should be given to individuals 70 years of age or older who are on a waiting list or are scheduled for appointments at a later date. But if no one in that age group is available immediately, the dose may be offered to individuals between the ages of 65 and 69 or, most recently, to vaccination clinic staff or volunteers “by age”.
DHHS stated that exceptions to this policy would be considered “for uninhabited islands, remote locations and other environments where providing vaccines to qualified individuals would be unfeasible without a wider suitability”.
“Requests for such exemptions will be rare and must be approved in advance,” the statement said.
On Tuesday, Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey warned that his office would consider legal and administrative action against health care providers who administer shots to unsuitable individuals. The reprimand was in response to several high-profile violations of those guidelines, including MaineGeneral providing vaccines to donors as part of a clinical trial and MaineHealth vaccinating overseas contractors who were hired to fight a unionization campaign among nurses.
Dr. James Jarvis, who heads Northern Light Health’s COVID-19 incident command, said the extra dose has not been a problem at their clinics across the state. The Northern Light Mass Vaccination Clinic at Bangor Cross Insurance Center is delivering more than 1,000 shots a day and, with the recent opening of a second “pod” inside the center of the arena, can administer up to 5,000 per day as supplies allow.
Jarvis said Northern Light only makes appointments for the number of doses it has on hand for any given day. And unlike some other healthcare providers, Northern Light is not currently holding a waiting list for qualified individuals.
“We do not anticipate that we will have the additional vaccine available at the end of the day,” Jarvis said.
MORE MANY DOSES COME
On Tuesday, the Biden administration announced plans to allocate an additional 2 million additional doses of vaccines to states increasing total distributions to 13.5 million as well as an additional one million doses delivered to retail pharmacy chains carrying out inoculations. It was not clear how many additional doses would have been assigned to Maine, however.
Maine predicted to receive 22,475 initial combined doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines this week. Second doses are tracked and shipped separately based on the time they are scheduled to be administered. Moreover, 24 pharmacies located in Walmart or Sam’s Club stores in Maine are expected to receive 4,800 doses of vaccine this week as part of clinics that began last week.
According to vaccine tracking by Bloomberg, Maine had the sixth highest vaccination rate in the country with 13.2 percent of residents receiving at least one shot, slightly higher than the country average of 12.2 percent. Maine ranked 11th after nine states and the District of Columbia in terms of total population share (5.4 percent) has received both doses of the vaccine.
Vaccine reluctance, or reluctance to inoculate, is a major concern across the country because experts estimate it may require 70 percent or more of the population to be immunized against COVID-19 to stop the uncontrolled spread through “immunity”. of the herd “.
Recent surveys conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau suggest that Mainers are more likely to want the COVID vaccine than their counterparts in most states. Approximately 62 percent of respondents to the survey said they would “definitely” get a vaccine as soon as it became available, which was among the Top 10 nationwide but was lower than all states. other New England except Connecticut. The national average was 54.8 percent, according to the Census Bureau.
Maine AG warns service providers against vaccinating unsuitable individuals