BANGOR, Maine (AP) — The administration of Maine Gov. Janet Mills might mandate coronavirus vaccines for health care workers as hospitals in the state deal with outbreaks.
A spokesperson for Mills, a Democrat, said the governor is “seriously considering” the requirement, the Portland Press Herald reported. Maine Medical Center in Portland and Waldo County General Hospital in Belfast have both reported outbreaks of coronavirus among staff in recent days.
The spokesperson, Lindsay Crete, said a decision is expected in the coming days. The Maine Hospital Association and American Medical Association have both supported requiring the vaccines for health workers.
“Health care workers perform a critical role in protecting the health of Maine people and should take every precaution against this dangerous virus, especially given the highly transmissible delta variant,” Crete said.
States including New York and California have mandated coronavirus vaccines for health care workers.
In other pandemic news in Maine:
The number of new cases of the coronavirus continued to rise in August.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Maine has risen over the past two weeks from 61.29 new cases per day on July 25 to 140.50 new cases per day on Aug. 8. The seven-day rolling average of daily deaths in Maine fell over the past two weeks, going from 2.14 deaths per day on July 25 to 0.14 deaths per day on Aug. 8.
The AP is using data collected by Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering to measure outbreak caseloads and deaths across the United States.
The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday that there have been more than 71,000 reported cases of the virus since the start of the pandemic. There have also been 901 deaths.
Nearly two-thirds of the state is fully vaccinated, Democratic Gov. Janet Mills on Monday.
State officials have recommended people wear masks in areas of the state with high or substantial transmission of the virus. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday that included seven of the state’s 16 counties, including Cumberland and York, which make up almost 40% of the state’s population.
SCHOOL MASK RULES
School districts in Maine are taking varied approaches to mask mandates for the coming school year.
The superintendent of the Bangor School Department announced on Monday that all students and school employees will be required to wear masks while inside school buildings. Superintendent James Tager said the district felt the wise move was to follow U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for universal indoor masking as the coronavirus pandemic stretches into another school year.
The school district in Portland, which is the largest in Maine, plans to follow a similar protocol. But the School Committee in Lewiston, another of Maine’s large, urban school districts, recently rejected a motion to require masks and chose instead to make mask use optional.
Schools begin opening at the end of the month. Maine is currently experiencing a resurgence of cases of coronavirus, but the state has recommended full-time, in-person learning.