Maine: COVID-19 counts rise, indoor masking could return
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Cases of the coronavirus in Maine are growing, and the state’s governor said Tuesday that officials are reviewing public health recommendations about the virus.
The number of daily coronavirus infections has quadrupled in Maine over the last two weeks. Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, said the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention are reviewing new guidance from the federal government that everyone in areas of high transmission should wear a mask even if they’ve already been vaccinated.
The review should be completed by Wednesday, and the state will then announce if there are any changes coming. The state rescinded mask orders and most other pandemic restrictions weeks ago.
“In the meantime, we continue to strongly urge all Maine people to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated. It is the best and most effective way to protect your health and that of your family, friends, and communities,” Mills said in a statement.
The state’s top public health official, Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah, told the Bangor City Council on Monday that a return to indoor mask use is likely coming even for fully vaccinated residents, the Bangor Daily News reported.
“We probably need to be prepared, even for fully vaccinated folks, for the time being, to go back to wearing masks in indoor settings,” the Daily News reported that Shah told councilors.
Maine CDC said Tuesday that there have now been more than 70,000 reported cases of the virus in the state, and the number of deaths since the start of the pandemic was 898.
Shah also tweeted on Tuesday that people in public, indoor spaces should “consider masking up,” especially in a higher transmission counties, such as York and Piscataquis. He also tweet that everyone in schools should mask up, regardless of vaccination status, and he urged unvaccinated people to get vaccinated.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Maine has risen over the past two weeks from about 14 new cases a day on July 11 to about 61 new cases a day on Sunday. The seven-day rolling average of daily deaths in Maine has also risen over the past two weeks from less than one death a day on July 11 to about two deaths a day Sunday.
The AP is using data collected by Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering to measure outbreak caseloads and deaths across the United States.
Maine authorities said about 68% of the state’s eligible population is fully vaccinated against coronavirus. That’s one of the highest rates in the country. However, counts have been increasing in Maine and around the country in recent weeks.
In other pandemic news in Maine:
EVENT RAISES FUNDS
Organizers with the American Lung Association said a virtual event to raise money for COVID-19 research and lung health raised a little more than $360,000.
The association said more than 600 cyclists from around the country participated in the virtual Trek Across Maine. They said they plan to hold the event in person in 2022.
Follow AP’s coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic.