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COVID-19 cases surge in Maine amid new variant
By Houssein Mouhoumed
Portland, Maine — COVID-19 cases are on the rise again across the nation as the holiday season comes to a close. Maine is one of many states reporting record hospitalization numbers.
Maine recorded a peak of 387 hospitalized patients on Dec 21. About two-thirds of all COVID-19 patients, including about 90 percent of intensive care patients, are unvaccinated, according to state health officials.
Due to healthcare worker shortages, hospitals are struggling to keep up with the surge. In response the Federal Emergency Management Agency has sent 16 emergency medical technicians and paramedics to hospitals in Maine. The workers are expected to stay in Maine until late January.
As we near the New Year, officials are worried about the effects of the Omicron variant among those celebrating. Experts predict that the strain is the dominant variant in the state.
“Maine does seem to be going slightly faster at the initial rate, so I would say it’s either the dominant variant now or will be between now and the 30th,” said Ryan Tewhey, lead researcher at Bar Harbor’s Jackson Laboratory.
Dr. Fauci said Wednesday that there is no need to cancel small home gatherings among vaccinated and boosted family and friends but urged citizens to consider not going to larger events.
“If your plans are to go to a 40- to 50-person New Year’s Eve party with all the bells and whistles and everybody hugging and kissing and wishing each other a Happy New Year, I would strongly recommend that this year we not do that,” Dr. Fauci said.
Meanwhile, Portland restaurants have launched a petition asking the city officials to implement an indoor vaccine mandate. Portland city council is expected to meet next week to discuss whether to repeal a state of emergency and implement an indoor mask mandate, according to the Portland Press Herald.
Some cities like New York and Philadelphia have already implemented vaccine mandates in indoor spaces prior to this surge caused by the Omicron variant.