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Maine CDC director says omicron is 'spark on the horizon' — while delta is 'blazing here today'

Nirav Shah
Robert F. Bukaty
Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, speaks at a news conference Monday, March 16, 2020, in Augusta, Maine.

The director of the Maine CDC says the new COVID-19 variant omicron is a concern, but it's still unclear what kind of threat it will pose.

Dr. Nirav Shah says many people are wondering how well current vaccines will protect against omicron. Getting the answer will take time, he says, but "If you're vaccinated, your immune system is not a blank slate anymore. Just as the virus can adapt, so can your immune system."

So the best protection, Shah says, is to get vaccinated. For adults who already got the shot at least 6 months ago, get the booster.

And, he says, now is a good time to wear masks indoors in public spaces. These recommendations are not just designed to keep the public safe from omicron.

"Omicron is a spark on the horizon. The delta is the fire that's blazing here today," he says.

The delta variant is driving the current surge in cases and record-breaking hospitalizations, which continued Wednesday with 334 people hospitalized.

The number of patients on ventilators also hit an all-time high of 49, as did Maine's positivity rate, now at 11.6%.