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Vital records bump up daily death toll to 23

No significant update on church outbreak in Morril
By Fran Gonzalez | Feb 02, 2021

Augusta — Dr. Nirav Shah, director of Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said Tuesday, Feb. 2, any shipments of COVID-19 vaccines caught in a logistical delay because of the wintry weather can subsist for 72 hours in a packaged environment without any temperature concerns.

Some vaccination sites have had to cancel appointments today because of the weather, he said.

“Right now, we are in a race,” he said, “to out-vaccinate the virus.”

When asked about the recent outbreak at the Crossroads to Calvary Apostolic Church in Morrill, where 23 cases were reported Jan. 28, Shah said no significant update was available.

As of today, Shah said, 23 additional Maine people were reported to have died with COVID-19. Twenty-one of the cases came from vital records, which show people who died because of the virus but without a positive test.

Shah said the Maine CDC "combs through" the vital records to get a full and complete picture of the COVID-19 situation in Maine.

Overall, 618 people in Maine have died because of the disease since the pandemic began. Currently there are 157 people hospitalized because of virus in the state, down from 171 Jan. 28, the last time a press briefing was held. Of that total, 48 people are in intensive care units and 24 are on ventilators.

As of today, there have been a total of 158,071 shots in arms, Shah said. This breaks down to 117,613 people who have received their first doses and 40,458 who have gotten both doses.

Shah said the Maine CDC is currently working on a statewide registration system that will be easy to use, easily accessible and scalable. "All the things the federal solution could not do," he said. Hospitals, he said, have also rolled out their own registration systems, even though Shah had hoped for a unified system.

It is possible, moving forward, Shah said, that there will be two ways to register to receive a vaccination.

When asked about the current situation, he said, "I so much want to say things are getting better." Some recent developments seem to point in this direction, including a declining positivity rate and a drop in hospitalizations.

"I just don't know how permanent it will be," he said. "This might a pause rather than a stop."

One area of concern he noted was the likelihood of discovering any of the new variants in the state. "That is one thing that can undo the moment of repose," he said.

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