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Despite Maine's high vaccination rates, lower rural rates are still driving COVID cases and hospitalizations

Virus Outbreak Maine
Robert F. Bukaty
A pharmacy technician loads a syringe with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine, Tuesday, March 2, 2021, at a mass vaccination site at the Portland Expo in Portland, Maine.

Maine Center for Disease Control Director Dr. Nirav Shah said he does not expect Maine's troubling daily COVID-19 case rates to wane any time soon, despite the state's high vaccination rate.

"I hate to deliver bad news, but when there's bad news I want people to hear it from me. This trend we're seeing of a high plateau of cases and hospitalizations is likely to continue," Shah said on Maine Calling Monday.

Dr. Nirav Shah said while Maine's overall vaccination rate is about 70%, which is one of the highest in the country, rates in several rural counties are much lower than that.
Shah says the lower immunity levels in those areas, combined with colder drier air with the change of season, will make indoor gatherings even more of a risk.

As of Monday morning, Shah says 215 people across the state are in the hospital with COVID-19, 76 are in intensive care, and 33 are on a ventilator.