Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said Wednesday, Dec. 2, that since the CDC briefing Monday, 20 people have died in the state because of COVID-19.

In the last 24 hours, he said, four people have died from the disease. They are two men in their 80s, one from Hancock County, the other from Penobscot County; and two women, one in her 70s from Kennebec County and one in her 90s from Oxford County. In all, 218 people have died in the state since the pandemic began, he said.

There were 232 new cases of COVID-19 reported across the state since yesterday, bringing the total number of cases to 12,208.

Speaking from her Blaine House office, Gov. Janet Mills said her quarantine is an example that no one is exempt from the disease. "I am no exception," she said.

Mills said a member of her security staff with whom she was in contact last Saturday, a state trooper, received a positive test result for COVID-19, and as a precaution she was in quarantine. While she has no symptoms, she is planning on getting tested and said no additional members of her team are in quarantine.

"I basically have been in a bubble since early March," she said. There is a "duct tape moat" surrounding her desk indicating a six-foot border where visitors can stand, and she said, "I barely leave my desk."

Shah said being in quarantine does not mean you have COVID-19, but rather that you were within 6 feet of someone who had the virus for 15 or more cumulative minutes. Even if both parties were wearing masks, he said, it is still a close contact. "A contact of a contact does not  need to be in quarantine," he said.

"Quarantine allows us to break the chain of transmission of the virus," Shah said. "It's a precautionary measure."

Mills said she and the Maine CDC have been discussing the distribution of the vaccine, which now seems "imminent," and most likely will take place by mid-December.

In a conference call with governors across the country Monday, U.S. CDC officials said states will be responsible for bearing part of the cost of administering the vaccine, Mills said. The federal office also significantly lowered the number of allotted vaccine doses scheduled to ship to Maine, she added.

Initially the state was to receive enough vaccine to treat 30,000 people, she said. Now, Maine will probably receive enough doses to treat 12,675 individuals, far less than what is needed, she said. When asked why the number was reduced, Mills said she still has not received an answer.

She cautioned of a "perfect storm" percolating with the Cares Act expiring at the end of the year, along with lapses in unemployment insurance, with positivity rates continuing to climb, and all during the holiday season. She expressed her gratitude to Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King for supporting another relief package.

"The end is in sight," she said. "Together we will get through this."

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