AUGUSTA — Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said Wednesday, Sept. 29, across the state 867 new COVID-19 cases were recorded since yesterday with 2,500 positive cases awaiting review.

According to Shah, his agency needs to process every test to prevent duplicates and confirm state of residency. The process typically removes around 20% of cases, he added. 

Maine now has had 1,022 deaths since the pandemic began. Currently, he said, 71 people are in intensive care units with 31 on ventilators. Overall, there are now 41 ICU beds left in the state.

The seven-day PCR positivity rate declined to 4.6% from two weeks ago when it was 6.1%, which Shah said was a function of increased testing.

Maine is the third-highest state behind Connecticut and Vermont respectively, for vaccination rates with 68.4% of the entire population now fully vaccinated, Shah said. Speaking of Mainers 65 and older, 98.6% have had at least one dose and 93% are fully vaccinated.

“This is an indication of how well-protected older Mainers are against the virus,” Shah said.

Across the state, he said, there are counties with pockets of high transmission rates. According to the U.S. CDC, Waldo County has a 4.46% transmission rate with 70% of eligible population fully vaccinated, while by comparison, Somerset County, has 9.13% transmission rate with 60% of people vaccinated.

When asked how many children are currently in the hospital with COVID-19 related illnesses, Shah said there are two, with no children in the ICU. In the past 30 days he said, there were five children in the hospital with one in the ICU. 

“Children’s hospitals are already stressed,” he said. “We’re not in emergency mode but we are keeping close tabs on it.”

Discussing booster shots, Shah said Mainers 65 and older and any resident of a long-term care facility should get a booster shot at least six months after getting the Pfizer series. Those 18 and older with underlying medical conditions or increased risk of exposure because of living or working environments should also receive a booster.

The reason for the booster, Shah said, is that like most vaccines, the effectiveness wanes over time. “Being eligible for the booster does not mean protection from the virus has fallen to zero,” he added.

“Booster are important,” he said. “You should walk and not run to get one.”

To find a location providing booster shots, look up Maine COVID vaccination sites and Shah recommended calling first before going, to make sure they have the Pfizer vaccine on hand.

Maine CDC’s focus still remains on getting Mainers their first dose, he said. 

“If folks don’t get vaccinated, we will continue to see pockets of high transmission levels,” Shah said. “…It reverberates well beyond your own community.”

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