Maine public health authorities reported 154 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, and one additional death.

The relatively low number of cases in Maine continued as the state vaccination program ramps up. The seven-day daily average of new cases stood at 270.6 on Sunday, compared to 367.1 a week ago and 490 a month ago.

More than 10 percent of Maine’s 1.3 million population has now received at least the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Through Sunday, 191,813 doses had been given, with 140,184 first doses and 51,629 second doses.

Vaccination is increasing, although Maine is experiencing logistical problems centered on vaccine supply. For instance, independent living facilities for seniors were initially set to be vaccinated on-site through the retail pharmacy program run by Walgreens and CVS, but were dropped from the program in January. Now these senior congregate care centers are scrambling to get their elderly residents immunized, but with supplies scarce it’s been difficult to schedule clinics.

Maine is receiving about 21,000 doses weekly from the federal government, an amount that needs to be expanded to about 50,000 doses per week for supply to start meeting demand. The Biden administration has promised to ratchet up supplies, but it’s unclear when that will happen.

 

Dr. Dora Anne Mills, chief health improvement officer for MaineHealth, the parent company of Maine Medical Center, said in a Facebook post Saturday that while supply is low now, more supply is expected, including a new vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson that could be approved by late February or early March. If it’s approved, Maine and the other 49 states could begin receiving Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses by early March. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires only one dose per patient, compared to the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines currently in use that require two doses, spaced three to four weeks apart.

“I read (Johnson & Johnson officials) have about 7 million doses ready to be distributed,” Mills wrote. “If so, that would be about 28,000 doses for Maine. If approved, the J&J vaccine is an incredible game changer, because of its high efficacy and because it is a single dose and can be stored and handled much like influenza vaccine. It should be much easier to vaccinate many on the frontlines at their workplaces with this vaccine.”

Meanwhile, Mainers are reporting frustration at navigating a patchwork system to schedule immunization appointments, largely because demand is far outstripping supply, but also because there’s not a centralized scheduling center. Each hospital network has set up its own scheduling system, and the state is working on a centralized system, but it hasn’t been launched yet. Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a media briefing last week that a scheduling system set up by the federal government did not work well, and so states have been left to come up with their own systems.

Overall, 41,218 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Maine, with 635 deaths. The death reported on Sunday was a woman in her 70s from York County. On Sunday, there were 123 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Maine, including 35 in intensive care.

On Saturday, Cape Elizabeth schools announced that because of a positive COVID-19 case, Pond Cove Elementary School and Cape Elizabeth Middle School will be doing remote-only learning for the week of Feb. 8. Cape Elizabeth High School will remain open for in-person learning.

Nationally as of Sunday night, there had been nearly 27 million Americans infected with the coronavirus and 463,339 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been more than 106 million confirmed cases and 2.31 million deaths.

Related Headlines


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: