Maine reported 882 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and two additional deaths as the state’s infection rate rises again.
The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention also reported Wednesday that 3,189 children ages 5 to 11 were given a chance, an increase of 1,171 from Tuesday. The age group first became eligible for the Pfizer vaccine last week, and schools, public health officials and pediatricians are rushing to administer the two-dose regimen to as many schoolchildren as possible by mid-December, before the school holidays.
As the state ramps up vaccinations, the Maine pandemic is intensifying. The seven-day average of daily new cases was 546.9 Wednesday, compared to 473.4 a week ago and 498.7 a month ago. The peak in Maine during the slump so far is about 600 cases per day in early October.
Nationally, the seven-day average of daily new cases has risen from about 71,000 a week ago to about 73,000 today. But the 73,000 cases remain below an early September peak of about 180,000 cases per day.
Maine has the 18th highest number of COVID-19 cases per capita in the United States, with 38.1 cases per 100,000 population, on a seven-day average, according to the Harvard Global Health Institute. The national average on Wednesday was 23 cases per 100,000 population
Since the start of the pandemic, Maine has recorded 109,592 cases of COVID-19 and 1,217 deaths.
Jeanne Lambree, Maine health and human services commissioner, and Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, briefed the media at 2 p.m. today.
Hospital admissions rose again on Wednesday, with 225 patients hospitalized statewide with COVID-19, including 69 in intensive care units and 29 on a ventilator. Most of those sick enough to be hospitalized, especially those in intensive care, are not fully vaccinated, according to hospitals and state officials.
dr. James Jarvis, COVID-19 incident commander for Northern Light Health, the parent company of Eastern Maine Medical Center at Bangor and Mercy Hospital in Portland, said hospitalizations remain a concern, with hospitals caring for many COVID-19 patients across the nation. Maine.
Jarvis said, “If we slacken our vigilance” by failing to vaccinate and refusing to take public health precautions, such as wearing masks indoors, “we are going to have a difficult winter.”
The pediatric injections are primarily offered in pharmacies and independent community clinics coordinated by health care systems such as MaineHealth, Northern Light Health and InterMed. But soon, school-based clinics will “shoot guns.”
dr. Dora Anne Mills, MaineHealth’s chief health improvement officer, said the health care system is planning dozens of school clinics. Mills said most clinics didn’t open this week because they needed time to plan and educate parents about what to expect and answer questions about the vaccine. A Zoom meeting about MaineHealth’s upcoming clinic on Nov. 17 at Great Falls Elementary School in Gorham was attended by more than 170 parents.
“Next week it’s going to be a lot bigger,” Mills said. “These clinics are the most efficient way to get our kids vaccinated.”
Northern Light Health, the parent company of Eastern Maine Medical Center at Bangor and Mercy Hospital in Portland, hosts clinics in 18 school districts, mostly in southern Maine, said Andrew Soucier, a spokesperson for Northern Light. Penobscot Community Health Center will host school clinics in the Bangor area, he said.
While most clinics start next week, schools in Scarborough are hosting a series of clinics for children aged 5-11 this week.
This story is being updated.
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