Maine to prioritize COVID-19 vaccines for teachers
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Maine Gov. Janet Mills said Wednesday the state will align its coronavirus vaccination plan with President Biden’s call to immunize teachers and school staff.
Maine had recently unveiled an age-based system to determine vaccine eligibility, and expanded eligibility to people who are 60 and older on Wednesday. Mills, a Democrat like Biden, said she shares the president’s desire to get teachers vaccinated.
The push to vaccinate teachers and school staff will make more than 50,000 people eligible for the coronavirus shots, Mills said. More than 10,000 were already made eligible by expanding vaccines to people age 60 and over, she said.
“We will continue to work day and night with our health care providers to get shots into as many arms as possible, as quickly as possible, focusing our efforts on those most at risk of dying if they contract the virus,” Mills said.
At the national level, President Joe Biden has also pledged enough vaccines will be available for every American adult by the end of May.
Mills said the state is looking for details about when more doses of vaccine will arrive in Maine. She said the state isn’t making any changes to its own vaccine time frame yet.
Mills and other state officials have said Maine hopes to extend the coronavirus vaccine to people age 50 and older starting in April and people 40 and older in May.
In other coronavirus pandemic news in Maine:
The latest average positivity rate in Maine is 1.79%. 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 seven-day rolling average of the positivity rate in Maine did not increase over the past two weeks, going from 3.7% on Feb. 16 to 1.79% on March 2.
The Maine CDC said Wednesday the state has topped 45,000 positive cases of the virus since the start of the pandemic. The agency has also reported a total of 705 deaths.
ST. PATRICK’S DAY MASS
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland will livestream St. Patrick’s Day mass this year.
Bishop Robert Deeley, a child of Irish immigrants, will celebrate the mass on March 17 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland with some parishioners, the diocese said.
The state of Maine is allowing in-person religious services, with attendance limits. The mass will also be available to the public via the diocese’s website.
Maine Catholics have numerous other events planned for St. Patrick’s Day week, including a “virtual party” held via Zoom from Our Lady of Hope Parish in Portland on March 15. The diocese said the parish “is calling on anyone who may have a story to tell, a song to sing or play, or a poem to share to sign up” and participate.