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COVID-19 hospitalizations in Maine have risen by over 50% in the last 2 weeks

Virus Outbreak Maine
Robert F. Bukaty
Central Maine Medical Center is seen, Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021, in Lewiston, Maine. About a dozen members of the Maine National Guard have been deployed to help open a swing bed unit at the hospital.

COVID-19 hospitalizations in Maine have increased significantly over the past two weeks.

There are 150 people currently hospitalized, an increase of 57 since mid-April. The number of people in critical care has increased by 13 to a current total of 29.

State CDC Director Nirav Shah says those numbers indicate that the virus is still circulating in Maine.

"Now it is not circulating with the same degree of intensity and ubiquity that we saw in January. But by no metric can we think when 150 people who are in the hospital is something that's suggestive of us being done with or out of the pandemic," he says.

Shah says he's heard many questions about the effectiveness of the second booster shot in the days since Gov. Janet Mills tested positive for COVID-19 last week. The governor had recently received hers.

Shah says Mills' experience is instructive.

"She's doing fine. And that is in large part because her body was ready to deal with COVID-19 because of the fact that she had gotten her vaccines," he says.

Shah says Mills also had a plan to obtain the antiviral drug Paxlovid, which can significantly reduce hospitalizations.

The federal government announced last week it's doubling the amount of Paxlovid it ships to states. As distribution ramps up, Shah says there may be temporary challenges obtaining the medication and urged Mainers to check with doctors and pharmacies to create a plan.