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Vaccine arrives in Maine and additional doses requested

December 14, 2020 GMT

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Maine hospitals on Monday began receiving the first doses of a coronavirus vaccine produced by Pfizer. The first doses were going to seven Maine hospitals, as well as long-term care facilities.

Democratic Gov. Janet Mills said the vaccine’s arrival was “a logistical feat” and a “much-needed beacon of hope in an otherwise difficult time.”

“The arrival of this initial shipment is just the beginning of what will be a months long process to receive, distribute, and administer this vaccine, and other new vaccines, as they become available. We will do this in the quickest, most efficient, and most equitable manner possible,” she said in a statement.

Northern Light Health officials said its first vaccine doses were delivered Monday to Mercy Hospital in Portland and Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor. Five other hospitals are getting vaccines in the first round.

Maine has already submitted a request to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for a second shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine. Combined, the state hopes to have enough doses to vaccinate approximately 50,525 people.

Maine is relying on the Pfizer vaccine and anticipates getting doses of a vaccine from Moderna. The Moderna vaccine still must be approved for emergency use by the FDA.

In other coronavirus-related news:

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THE NUMBERS

Maine topped 400 infections of COVID-19 for a fifth time since Dec. 7, the Maine Center for Disease Control said Monday.

The Maine CDC reported 426 new cases of COVID-19 and two additional deaths. The seven-day daily average of new cases stood at 368.7 on Monday, more than double the level from a month ago.

All told, more than 16,000 Mainers have tested positive for the coronavirus and nearly 260 people have died, officials said.

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LEGISLATURE

The legislative session in which lawmakers were sworn in at the Augusta Civic Center cost just over $145,000, including tablets for lawmakers, other technology, lunches and rent.

The cost going forward will be $4,025 a day for rent.

The Maine Legislature has no standing contract to continue using the space, but the auditorium is set up for the lawmakers’ return next month, the civic center’s director Earl Kingsbury, told the Portland Press Herald.

The civic center will be unused if it isn’t utilized for legislators because of the state’s cap on gatherings of 50 people, he said.

In the first year of the previous Legislature, lawmakers held floor sessions in the Statehouse on 57 days. The cost to taxpayers will be about $229,000 if lawmakers gather that many days at the civic center.