Maine reported 439 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, and three additional deaths, as vaccinations continue and public health officials brace for another potential surge after Christmas holiday travel.
Since the pandemic began, 22,319 people in Maine have tested positive for COVID-19, and 326 have died.
Dr. Nirav Shah, Maine CDC director, is expected to address the media at 2 p.m. today.
Through Sunday, more than 17,000 Maine people – predominantly health care workers on the front lines of the pandemic – had been vaccinated, about 1.3 percent of the state’s population. Maine is immunizing people faster than most states, according to a vaccine tracker by Bloomberg News. When measuring the people vaccinated as a percent of the total population by state, only West Virginia, Alaska, North Dakota and South Dakota had immunized more people per capita than Maine, with West Virginia leading the nation at 1.7 percent.
Vaccine rollout is continuing, with more shipments of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines expected this week.
Paramedics and EMTs are starting to receive vaccines, and the Portland Fire Department reported that 80 firefighters who are cross-trained as paramedics and EMTs were vaccinated last weekend, with an additional 80 slated to get the shot this week.
Portland Deputy Fire Chief Kevin McGuire told the Press Herald this weekend that all “mask and travel policies are still in place” for firefighters.
“My hopes is in four or five months if thousands of people get vaccinated we will see active cases go down and we can start thinking about changing policy,” McGuire said.
But epidemiologists and other public health officials have cautioned that, even with the vaccine, the public will be urged to continue wearing masks, practicing social distancing and taking other protective measures for the foreseeable future.
This story will be updated.