Heading into the fall and winter in the Northeast, it’s hard to know what to expect of COVID, which is no longer front of mind but remains a threat to life, long-term health and normalcy.

But it’s easy to know what to do about it.

The bivalent boosters available now offer extended protection against moderate to severe COVID. Along with the immunity built up over the course of the pandemic and the effective therapeutics that await those with an infection, we have the tools to limit the impact of the virus as Mainers get ready to spend more time indoors.

More than most Americans, Maine residents are following that path, with about 3,600 booster shots a day going into arms across the state, the Press Herald reported Monday. It may be far slower than when vaccines first were approved in spring 2021, when Maine was administering more than 20,000 shots a day, but it’s far more than most states, where only a relative few are getting the shot.

A Kaiser Family Foundation survey in mid-September found that nearly half of adults hadn’t heard anything about the booster. Many others were unsure if they were eligible.

That’s a failure of the Biden administration, coming while the president proclaimed that the pandemic was over. And it’s no way to get through to the Americans who are reluctant to get a booster, many of who have become unreachable on the subject because of their political views.


That does not bode well for the coming months. Most experts are predicting some sort of fall and winter surge of the virus, but just how severe remains up in the air.

Previous infections have given many Americans at least some protection even if they haven’t opted for a vaccine or booster. But in many cases, it won’t be enough. Unvaccinated Americans have died at far greater rates than those who have received even one series of shots. That will continue in the next wave.

Whether people are tuning out or not, the government cannot just give up. Since August, somewhere between 350 and 500 Americans have died every day from COVID. Over a year, that pace results in four to five times the average number of flu deaths in an average year.

And in addition to the preventable deaths, a winter wave of COVID will once again wreak havoc with our schedules, just as it did last year when schools lost so many teachers, support staff and students to sick days.

Disruption and death is no way to spend a Maine winter. Government should do everything it can to get out the word about boosters. Then everyone eligible should go and get one. If they do happen to feel ill, stay home — or at least put a high-quality mask on.

Wastewater systems in Boston and New York are showing increases in COVID. So too are systems in Augusta, Brunswick and Bangor.

We don’t yet know exactly what that means for a winter surge. But we do know the best way to make it as mild as possible.


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