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COVID cases and hospitalizations are on the rise in Maine

Hospitalizations from COVID-19 are on the rise in Maine, says state CDC director Dr. Puthiery Va.

Va says there have been 65 COVID hospitalizations in the last week, with 11 people in the intensive care unit, and three on ventilators. She says it's difficult to predict whether case numbers will continue to rise.

"So it's hard to tell right whether or not this is starting to slow down and it will come back down eventually over the coming weeks, versus going back up because I know the holiday season approaching right, we have Thanksgiving this week and we have December, which is fully of holidays, coming as well," Va said.

She recommends that Mainers get the latest vaccine booster shot ahead of holiday gatherings, and also test themselves for COVID.

And Va says while some people may be having difficulty getting the latest COVID-19 vaccine booster, it’s not because there is a shortage of doses. She says it’s because distribution of the vaccine has been shifted from the state to the commercial sector.

"There is not a supply issue, but we are definitely feeling the growing pains of this commercialization process, which I mentioned had to happen for sustainability purposes, but it has been tough," Va said.

She suggests that those seeking a booster shot try multiple sources, including pharmacies and doctors offices. And she says even if a pharmacy's online form says the booster is available, its best to call to confirm, as some online portals are not up to date.

Kaitlyn Budion is Maine Public’s Bangor correspondent, joining the reporting team after several years working in print journalism.