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Watch briefing: Another 23 deaths, 417 cases of COVID-19 reported in Maine – Press Herald

The Biden administration announced plans Tuesday to increase allocations of COVID-19 vaccines to states this week and to launch a nationwide partnership that could allow eligible Mainers to get vaccinated at their local pharmacies.

The White House said it will provide an additional 10.5 million doses to states, tribes and territories this week and for the next three weeks, building on a 16 percent bump in vaccine supplies provided last month. Additionally, starting on February 11, the federal government will partner with dozens of national pharmacies, supermarket chains and other retailers with pharmacies to provide COVID-19 vaccinations.

Information was not immediately available about how many additional vaccine doses will be sent to Maine or when local pharmacies may begin offering vaccinations to eligible individuals, which are currently Mainers age 70 or older.

The White House announcement listed CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid and Walmart, as well as the Hannaford and Shaw’s supermarkets as participants in the program.

Maine’s vaccination campaign against COVID-19 continue to expand, albeit at a slower pace than desired because of the national shortage of doses. Tuesday’s snowstorm also prompted the cancelation of many vaccination clinics in the state.

As of Tuesday morning, health care providers had administered 117,613 first doses to individuals in Maine as well as 40,458 second doses with either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. That means 8.7 percent of the state’s population has received a first dose and 3 percent have received a second dose.

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention also reported 23 new deaths Tuesday among individuals with COVID-19, as well as 417 additional cases of the viral disease.

As Maine enters the eleventh month of the global pandemic, the state has been experiencing a downward trend in new cases reported daily compared to a month ago, although new infections are still exponentially higher than during the summer. However, Tuesday’s 23 deaths was one of the largest totals reported to date.

Not all of those deaths occurred in the preceding days. As was the case on other days with abnormally large death tolls for Maine, the vast majority of the deaths reported Tuesday — 21 of the 23 — occurred in recent weeks but were linked to COVID-19 by Maine CDC staff during a review of vital records.

Yet more than 65 percent of Maine’s 618 deaths have occurred since Thanksgiving, and more than 85 percent of those who have died after contracting COVID in Maine were age 70 or older.

The seven-day rolling average of new cases stood at 323 on Tuesday, down from 493 daily cases for the week ending January 25. Maine’s highest seven-day average of 626 cases occurred on January 15 at a time when the state was experiencing a string of days with 800-plus cases, according to figures from the Maine CDC.

To date, there have been 39,960 total confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 since March, with 70 percent of those occurring since December 1.

Tuesday’s storm will likely slow the pace of vaccinations in Maine, which are currently focused largely on Mainers age 70 or older — a population numbering 190,000 people in Maine, the nation’s oldest state — due to the disproportionate risks the virus poses for older individuals.

The Maine CDC reported a total of 4,090 shots were administered on Monday, lifting the total to date to 158,071 shots (both first and second doses). The highest number of shots administered in a single day was 8,827 last Thursday.

The current phase of the vaccination campaign isOfficials then expect to expand vaccine eligibility to Mainers between the ages of 65 and 69 as well as adults of all ages who have chronic medical conditions that put them at high risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19.

The first phase of vaccinations, which is close to wrapping up, was focused on inoculating health care professionals, public safety workers, those involved with COVID-19 response as well as residents and staff of nursing homes or other long-term care facilities.

Registered nurse Jess Addy, right, administers a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine last week to Connie Winship, 72, of Waterville at a clinic set up by Northern Light Inland Hospital at Kennebec Valley Community College in Fairfield. Northern Light Inland Hospital photo

The current phase of the vaccination campaign is focused largely on Mainers age 70 or older due to the disproportionate risks the virus poses for older individuals — a population numbering more than 190,000 in Maine, which is the oldest state in the nation. Officials then expect to expand vaccine eligibility to Mainers between the ages of 65 and 69 as well as adults of all ages who have chronic medical conditions that put them at high risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19.

The first phase of vaccinations, which is close to wrapping up, was focused on inoculating health care professionals, public safety workers, those involved with COVID-19 response as well as residents and staff of nursing homes or other long-term care facilities.

Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine CDC, is slated to hold a virtual briefing on the COVID-19 situation at 2 p.m.

This story will be updated.


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