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CDC reports 17 uncounted deaths; 133 new COVID cases

Rides to vacccination sites offered
By Fran Gonzalez | Mar 09, 2021

Augusta — Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported 17 additional deaths from COVID-19 in the state Tuesday, March 9, along with 133 new cases of the illness.

Dr. Nirav Shah, director of Maine CDC, noted the deaths were discovered by investigating online death certificates, looking for codes that providers use when a person dies with COVID-19. The 17 deaths occurred between Feb. 17 and March 4, he said, and one occurred in November 2020.

Since the pandemic began, 723 people have died of COVID-19 in the state.

Currently there are 75 people hospitalized in Maine with the disease; 21 in intensive care units and seven on ventilators. According to Robert Long, Maine CDC spokesman, there are currently 104 available critical care beds out of a total of 387.

As of today, Shah said, 430,790 vaccine doses have been administered to people statewide. This includes 274,606 people who have received their first dose and 156,174 who have gotten both shots. At this point, he said, one in five Mainers have received at least a first dose, and one in nine are fully vaccinated.

Shah said the state is ramping up its vaccination capacity with over 10,000 shots administered per day.

Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew of the Department of Health and Human Services said a new transportation service is being rolled out providing rides to vaccination sites.

Motocare, a company that coordinates transportation services for MaineHealth, will partner with community transportation services to provide rides for people struggling to get to and from vaccination appointments. Lambrew said to reserve a ride, people are encouraged to call at least 48 hours prior to the appointment and between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. For more information or to reserve a ride, call 855-608-5172.

All riders and drivers will need to adhere to proper Maine CDC protocol by wearing a mask and social distancing when appropriate. When possible, Shah said, an open window will also help reduce the possibility of viral transmission.

Lambrew said, "We know there is a need that predates the pandemic."

U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention published guidance on activities fully vaccinated people can take part in, once 14 days has elapsed after their last dose or after the single dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Fully vaccinated people, Shah said, who are 14 days out from completing both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or the single dose of Johnson & Johnson are now able to visit other fully vaccinated people indoors in a private gathering inside a home without wearing a mask or social distancing.

"You are still free to do those things (wear a mask or social distance)," he said, "but doing so after both parties have been vaccinated is thought to be a low risk activity."

Fully vaccinated people can also visit unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID disease. Shah explained that the unvaccinated people would all need to be healthy, and all living in one household. This activity, too, he said, is thought to be low risk by the CDC and wearing a mask or social distancing is optional.

When visiting people who are older, or younger people with a higher risk for severe COVID disease, the best advice for fully vaccinated people is to continue with the traditional guidance of wearing a mask, social distancing and moving the visit outside whenever possible. Also continue to avoid medium to large gatherings, he said, and if you develop symptoms "getting tested is not a bad idea."

Teachers, school staff and child care workers, regardless of age, have been finding securing an appointment for vaccination frustrating, Lambrew said. There are three options for making an appointment, which all depend on supply, she said.

The first option is making an appointment through the U.S. retail pharmacy program, which includes Walgreen's, Walmart and Hannaford Supermarkets. The CDC has instructed these partners it must make new appointments available for teachers.

Also, special clinics for teachers, staff and child care workers 60 and over will be taking place March 12, 13 and 14 throughout the state. School districts will notify teachers and staff who are aged 60 and older about where they can sign up for the vaccines.

Lastly, Lambrew said, teachers, staff and child care workers are eligible to make appointments at all vaccination sites listed throughout Maine, regardless of age.

For a complete list of vaccination sites, visit maine.gov/covid19/vaccines/vaccination-sites.

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