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Health

Maine CDC Warns Of Possibility Of COVID-19 Resurgence

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Rebecca Conley
/
Maine Public
Moderna COVID-19 vaccines at a clinic in Limington on Friday.

The Maine Center for Disease Control is pointing to signs of a possible COVID-19 uptick in the state — the number of hospitalizations and the state’s positivity rate have both crept upward over the last two weeks, or about one incubation period.

And certain areas of the state are being closely monitored.

“Piscataquis County in particular, is an area that we are focused on,” said Maine CDC director Nirav Shah at a briefing Tuesday.

Shah said that since March 1, Piscataquis County has seen 76 cases — about double the number during the same period last month. But that it’s not yet clear what’s fueling the increase.

“There have also been no confirmed outbreaks — so what we are seeing is a significant uptick in community transmission,” he said.

Shah said the agency is trying to figure out links between clusters of cases. He noted that some restaurants have been named in relation to illnesses.

The announcement comes as the Maine CDC prepares to open COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to all Mainers on May 1. Shah said that means several hundred thousand people will be added to the lines to get the shot. But he says his agency is working to build capacity.

“As we get more vaccine, we’re looking to activate more channels of vaccination. Maybe it’s independent medical practices. Other chain pharmacies. Independent pharmacies,” he said.

Shah said he’s also asking existing clinics to increase hours and days of operation so that it’s easier to get appointments. And Maine has launched a COVID-19 vaccine hotline to help people who are having trouble making appointments online.

The number is intended for people who lack broadband access or need interpretation services. State officials stress that callers to the hotline don’t get express access to appointments.

The number to call is 888-445-4111.

The Maine CDC added 189 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday.

In total, 47,388 cases have been identified since the pandemic began. No new deaths were reported.

More than 510,000 doses of vaccine have been administered in the state.

All this week, Maine Public Radio will reflect on the one-year anniversary of the pandemic in the state as part of our Deep Dive series.