Maine saw another spike of COVID-19 cases Monday, Dec. 14, with 426 people testing positive for the disease since Sunday.

Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said two additional people have died as well because of the virus. A man and woman from York County, both in their 80s, have died.

The first shipment of the Pfizer vaccine arrived in the state today at Northern Light's Mercy Hospital in Portland and Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, he said.

"The arrival of the vaccine in Maine represents the light at the end of the tunnel," Shah said, "… but remember that we are still in the tunnel."

For the first wave of vaccinations, he said, the focus will be on hospitals, individuals who work in intensive care units or in COVID-19 wings, and emergency medical responders.

When asked how long-term care residents will get the shots, Shah said it will be through a partnership with commercial pharmacies, which will receive the doses and then bring them to residents at these facilities with onsite clinics.

Because community-level vaccinations are still several months away, Shah said, it is important at this time for people not to let down their guard. Continue with face coverings, avoid large gatherings and keep social distance while keeping on top of health care needs.

He advised Mainers to take care of themselves today by going to screenings, visiting their primary care doctor and taking care of preventive measures like getting a flu shot.

The Maine CDC is anticipating general community vaccinations will be available in late spring or early summer with locations at local pharmacies. Shah said the CDC is also exploring converting swab-and-send sites and local fire departments that have capacity into vaccination sites.

He said currently there are 198 people in the hospital with COVID-19; 56 in intensive care units and 17 on ventilators. Across the state there are 97 ICU beds available.

While today Maine received about 2,000 doses of the vaccine, Shah said, it would take around 2.6 million doses in all to treat every person in the state. He said by all measures it is a day to remember, and a positive development.

filed under: