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Maine hits record-high daily COVID-19 case count; hospitalizations

Governor details changes to vaccine distribution plan
By Fran Gonzalez | Jan 13, 2021

Augusta — The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported Wednesday, Jan. 13, the highest daily case count, along with the highest number of people in the hospital because of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

Dr. Nirav Shah, director of Maine CDC, said since yesterday, 824 new cases had been reported and that currently 207 people were in the hospital across Maine. Out of that total, 64 are in intensive care units and 23 are on ventilators.

This exemplifies that "even though the vaccine has arrived, we cannot let our guard down," he said, and encouraged everyone to continue to wear a mask, keep physical distance and avoid large crowds. "These actions save lives."

In the past 24 hours, four more people have died because of the virus, he said. There were three women and one man; two were residents of Penobscot County and two were from York County. One was in their 70s while three were in their 80s and over.

Speaking on vaccinations, as of today, Shah said, 62,004 people have received shots in the state, marking an increase of 6,229 since Monday. Out of this total, 53,511 people have received their first dose, and 8,494 have received their second.

In the past week, Shah said, the federal partnership program with Walgreens and CVS has increased their volume. Prefacing his data by saying the figures are 72 hours old, he noted that 8,645 staff and residents of long-term care facilities have been vaccinated through the commercial pharmacy program. Speaking in their defense, he said they are handling smaller assisted living facilities, which can be a challenge to schedule.

Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew of the state Department of Health and Human Services said their job is to ensure the most vulnerable people in the state get vaccinated, and that they are looking at their options regarding the federal pharmacy vaccine rollout program.

Gov. Janet Mills announced updates to Maine’s strategy for distributing its limited allocation of COVID-19 vaccine doses, focusing on older Mainers and those with high-risk medical conditions who are more likely to become seriously ill or die from the virus.

"We asked ourselves whose life can you save," she said, "Who's more likely to die if they don't get the vaccine? It's not an easy decision."

Maine is currently in Phase 1A of its vaccine rollout, she said, which is dedicated to protecting health care personnel, such as doctors, nurses and others, like emergency medical technicians, and residents of long-term care facilities.

Beginning this week, Maine is updating its strategy to also include firefighters, police and other law enforcement officers, as well as corrections officers. Also included in this group are critical COVID-19 response personnel such as employees of IDEXX, Abbott Laboratories, Puritan Medical Products and The Jackson Laboratory.

Personnel now added to Phase 1A, she said, can begin receiving vaccinations this week and the goal is to complete Phase 1A by February she said.

Updates to phase 1B starting Jan. 18 will include focusing vaccination efforts on older Maine people, beginning with 70 and older and people with underlying health conditions. Mills said they hope to complete this phase by April and start vaccinating everyone else in spring and summer. For more information on when and where vaccinations will be available, visit maine.gov/covid19/vaccines.

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