Maine requiring health care workers to get COVID-19 vaccine

August 12, 2021 GMT

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Health care workers in Maine are now required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 1, Gov. Janet Mills’ administration said Thursday.

An emergency rule requiring the vaccine applies to any individual employed by a hospital, multi-level health care facility, home health agency, nursing facility, residential care facility or intermediate care facility for individuals with intellectual disabilities.

The vaccination rule also covers those employed by emergency medical service organizations or dental practices.

Exemptions would be made for medical reasons.

“Maine’s hospitals, clinics, nursing facilities and other health providers are on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19,” said Jeanne Lambrew, commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.

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Lambrew thanked those employees who have already been vaccinated, adding, “with the arrival of the delta variant in Maine, it is more important than ever to protect these workers through vaccination.”

Health care providers such as the Maine Hospital Association, Maine Medical Association, Maine Primary Care Association and Maine Health Care Association supported the announcement, along with the state’s two largest health systems, MaineHealth and Northern Light Health.

On Monday, Mills announced that 80% of adults in Maine have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

In other coronavirus-related news:

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CHURCH-MASKS

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland is “strongly recommending” that all people attending Mass or other large church gatherings — vaccinated or unvaccinated — wear masks.

The diocese announced its recommendation on Thursday after reviewing levels of transmission of the coronavirus in Maine counties.

There are 141 churches in the diocese.

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BUSINESSES-BORDER

A $10 million grant program provided by the federal CARES Act will support Maine businesses and organizations near U.S.-Canada border crossings, Gov. Janet Mills said Thursday.

The program also will help Maine charter transportation businesses statewide.

“Maine’s border businesses rely on tourism from our northern neighbors to make ends meet, but with the federal government’s unfortunate decision to extend the border closure, traffic from Canada will continue to be limited,” Mills said in a news release.

She said she hoped the grants would help sustain eligible businesses and urged the federal government to “safely open the border.”

Businesses eligible to apply include charter transportation, land and sea excursion and sightseeing, and port harbor businesses statewide and customer-facing businesses and organizations that are open to the public and within a 25-mile (40-kilometer) driving distance of a U.S.-Canada border crossing.

Businesses can apply through Sept. 13.

Canada lifted its prohibition on Americans crossing the border to shop, vacation or visit on Monday. The U.S. has said it will extend its closure to all Canadians making nonessential trips until at least Aug. 21, but the Biden administration is beginning to make plans for a phased reopening.

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THE NUMBERS

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Maine has risen over the past two weeks from 67 new cases per day on July 27 to 173 new cases per day on Tuesday.

The Associated Press is using data collected by Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering to measure outbreak caseloads and deaths across the United States.

The Maine CDC reported there have been more than 72,000 cases of the virus in the state since the start of the pandemic.