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Maine To Get Nearly 40,000 Vaccine Doses Next Week

Charles Krupa
Associated Press
Vials for the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines are displayed on a tray at a clinic set up by the New Hampshire National Guard in the parking lot of Exeter, N.H., High School, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, in Exeter.

The supply of COVID-19 vaccine doses coming into Maine will increase again next week, reaching a new high of more than 39,000 doses per week as the administration of Gov. Janet Mills hints at upcoming changes in the vaccine rollout.

The federal government will provide roughly 30,000 of those doses directly to the state and the rest of the allocation to the Walmart and Walgreens pharmacies. 

"That will be the highest amount of vaccine that will be coming into our state since mid-December when we first started on this journey around vaccination," said Maine CDC Director Nirav Shah.

Shah said the increase, the stability in the supply and the prospect of emergency authorization for another vaccine made by Johnson and Johnson opens up new options for the vaccination rollout in Maine. 

Shah declined to provide details during a news briefing Thursday on how eligibility for COVID-19 vaccines may open up, but Governor Janet Mills is expected to make an announcement soon. 

Next week the state will also see the addition of at least two more high volume vaccine clinics. One will be in a former Marshalls in Sanford, and the other will be at the Portland Expo. So far, close to 16% of Maine residents have received first doses of the vaccine, including 58% of adults 70 and older.

Also on Thursday, state officials announced that the Maine Department of Health and Human Services has started offering rapid antigen coronavirus tests to about 1,700 child care providers in the state. 

Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew says the offer stems from a recent purchase of 250,000 BinaxNOW tests prioritized for schools. The tests can produce results in about 15 minutes.

"Its use can also help preserve the child care workforce, allowing for greater continuity of care for children, and the reduction of COVID-19 spread within child care settings," Lambrew said.

Lambrew said 93% of child care providers are open statewide, and less than 10% have had a single positive case in their facilities since the pandemic started.

The Maine Center for Disease Control reported another uptick in the number of deaths among people with COVID-19 on Thursday.

The 24 deaths come after 17 added on Wednesday. The CDC attributed all but two of them to a review of vital records for a period in late January and earlier this month.

And 200 new cases of the disease were reported, bringing the total number of COVID-19 cases in the state to 44,117.

As of Wednesday, Northern Light Health says its vaccination clinic in the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor has appointments open for people ages 70 and older.

This story was originally published at 8:48 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021.