The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday reported 158 cases of the novel coronavirus and no new deaths, as a group of Republican U.S. senators led by Maine’s Susan Collins announced plans to release a scaled-down COVID-19 relief package.

Collins and nine other senators on Sunday said they would offer President Biden a compromise to his $1.9 trillion relief plan that likely would omit such items as a nationwide $15 minimum wage. They said they had requested a meeting with the president and would release the details of their plan on Monday.

Maine’s cumulative COVID-19 cases rose to 39,324 on Sunday. Of those cases, 31,689 have been confirmed by testing and 7,635 are considered probable cases of COVID-19.

Five hundred ninety people have died with COVID-19 since the pandemic began in Maine, and 160 patients were in hospitals with the disease as of Sunday.

In a letter to Biden, the Collins-led group of senators said they were offering their compromise in response to the president’s calls for unity in his inaugural address and early days in office.

“We want to work in good faith with you and your administration to meet the health, economic and societal challenges of the COVID crisis,” they wrote.

With Republican senators signaling they won’t back Biden’s plan in sufficient numbers to meet a 60-vote bipartisan threshold, Democrats have been preparing to use a budget maneuver that would allow them to pass the legislation with a party-line vote in the 50-50 Senate.

 

 

In a news release, the 10 Republican senators said their compromise includes Biden’s proposed $160 billion for vaccines, testing and the health care system. The Republican alternative would also add more targeted relief for needy Americans, the senators said.

Alongside Collins in the group are Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Mitt Romney of Utah, Rob Portman of Ohio, Todd Young of Indiana, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia,  Jerry Moran of Kansas, Mike Rounds of South Dakota and Thom Tillis of North Carolina.

Meanwhile, Maine is still struggling to build a centralized vaccine distribution system with enough doses to immunize the population as quickly as planned. But Maine is still moving faster than many other states.

As of Sunday, Maine had given 112,916 people the first dose of a vaccine against COVID-19, with an additional 38,407 having received a second dose, for a total of 151,323 cumulative vaccinations. More than 8 percent of Maine’s 1.3 million people had received their first dose, compared to the national average of 7.5 percent, as of Saturday, according to Bloomberg News.

Though Maine has now given about 30,000 doses to people 70 and over, some older Mainers say they’re having trouble knowing when it’s their turn to get a shot. Would-be vaccine recipients are still registering through their medical providers, each of whom has different plans and schedules, rather than through a centralized state system. And after they register, older Mainers say they’re not hearing back about appointments, leaving them to wonder whether they’ll fall through the cracks.

The Maine CDC’s numbers indicate, however, that the state is giving out doses almost as fast as it can get them from the federal government. Late last week, health care workers had administered at least 76 percent of the 169,225 first and second doses that had arrived in Maine.

Maine is near the top in terms of speed and efficiency in distributing vaccines, but some even faster states, such as West Virginia, did better by giving doses to independent pharmacies rather than signing on to a federal partnership with Walgreens and CVS. Health officials in Maine have now begun redirecting doses toward independent pharmacies as well.

County by county as of Sunday, there had been 4,313 coronavirus cases in Androscoggin, 1,141 in Aroostook, 11,197 in Cumberland, 771 in Franklin, 779 in Hancock, 3,113 in Kennebec, 578 in Knox, 471 in Lincoln, 1,908 in Oxford, 3,420 in Penobscot, 203 in Piscataquis, 776 in Sagadahoc, 1,089 in Somerset, 512 in Waldo, 622 in Washington, and 8,429 in York.

By age, 14.7 percent of patients were under 20, while 17.9 percent were in their 20s, 14.5 percent were in their 30s, 13 percent were in their 40s, 15.5 percent were in their 50s, 11.8 percent were in their 60s, 6.8 percent were in their 70s, and 5.8 percent were 80 or older.

Of the 160 patients with COVID-19 in Maine hospitals on Sunday, 52 were in intensive care and 29 were on ventilators. The state had 95 intensive care unit beds available of a total 391, and 224 ventilators available of 320. There were also 443 alternative ventilators.

Around the world on Sunday evening, there were 102.8 million known cases of COVID-19 and 2.2 million deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. The United States had 26.1 million cases and 440,942 deaths.

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