Maine to revamp vaccine priority as virus cases surge
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The number of COVID-19 infections continues to soar in Maine, reaching a new daily record on Wednesday, as the state made plans to update its vaccine plan to prioritize older residents.
The daily number of confirmed infections reported by the Maine Center for Disease Control grew to more than 820 on Wednesday, surpassing the previous high of at least 780 on Friday. There also were four more deaths.
Maine’s seven-day average for new infections was at more than 580, an increase from at least 510 a week ago and from nearly 365 a month ago.
Democratic Gov. Janet Mills announced that Maine’s coronavirus vaccination plan has been updated to follow new federal guidelines recommending that states prioritize older residents. She said the state will start by dedicating a considerable amount of the state’s vaccine supply to residents 70 years of age and older.
Maine has the nation’s oldest population, and the virus is especially dangerous to older people and people with underlying health conditions. The vaccination plan also focuses on immunizing emergency service personnel, critical infrastructure workers and residents with high-risk medical conditions.
“Maine is predominantly an older state, and we have a large number of people with high-risk medical conditions. These folks are exactly who face the greatest risks from the virus,” Mills said. “Given they are at a greater risk of serious illness or death, it is appropriate to first target the limited supply of vaccine Maine receives to that population.”
Maine has given more than 51,000 first doses of the vaccine, and has begun delivering second doses. So far, Maine is getting about 18,000 doses a week, fewer than promised by the Trump administration.
In other news related to the pandemic in Maine:
Mills also said she’s concerned about the possibility of demonstrations in Maine’s capital city serving as venues to spread the coronavirus.
The FBI has warned of plans for armed protests in all 50 state capitals in the days before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.
“Any congregation of people can serve as a way to spread the virus,” Mills said. “I would not want to be responsible for such an event.”
The positivity rate in Maine has trended slightly downward over the last two weeks despite high case numbers.
The latest average positivity rate in Maine is 6.21%. State health departments are calculating positivity rate differently across the country, but for Maine the AP calculates the rate by dividing new cases by test specimens using data from The COVID Tracking Project.
The 7-day rolling average of the positivity rate in Maine did not increase over the past two weeks, going from 6.9% on Dec. 29 to 6.21% on Jan. 12.
The state’s largest trade show for the agriculture industry will take place online when it convenes next week.
The Maine Agricultural Trades Show is set to take place from Jan. 19 to 23. The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry puts on the show.
The five-day event includes presentations about agricultural and forestry topics.