PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Maine's governor said Wednesday that school employees who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 are putting students and communities at risk.
More than three-quarters of school staff in Maine are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, but the percentage varies widely from school to school. Some schools, including Lisbon Community School in Lisbon and Mount View Elementary School in Thorndike, have percentages less than 20%.
Democratic Gov. Janet Mills stopped short of calling for a mandate and said she expects school employees to “do the right thing” without one. She said the state is looking into whether President Joe Biden's requirement that employees in workplaces of more than 100 people get vaccinated or face weekly testing applies to public school workers.
“If you’re taking care of Maine kids and you’re choosing not to get vaccinated, you’re saying that you’re more important than the children who are in your care. Please just get vaccinated,” Mills said.
In other pandemic news in Maine:
CASES STILL RISING
Cases are continuing to rise in the state, and health officials have said that is placing a burden on Maine’s health care system.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Maine has risen over the past two weeks from 316.43 on Sept. 6 to 480.71 on Sept. 20. The seven-day rolling average of daily deaths in Maine has risen over the past two weeks from 1.14 on Sept. 6 to 4.71 on Sept. 20.
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.
There have been more than 85,000 positive cases of the virus in the state since the pandemic began.
In Maine, there were 226 people hospitalized with COVID-19 on Wednesday, including 88 who were in critical care, which was the highest total since the pandemic began.
Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Nirav Shah said Wednesday that one encouraging sign is that the rate of people getting vaccinated in the state has increased somewhere in the last two weeks. He said more than 90% of the COVID-19 patients in intensive care units are unvaccinated.
The vast majority of Maine's deaths from COVID-19 have been people who are age 60 or older.
Residents of that age group represent less than a fifth of the state's population, but they have accounted for more than 90% of Maine's COVID-19 deaths, the Portland Press Herald reported.
The Maine CDC reported on Wednesday that there have been 1,007 deaths from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. At least 915 of those deaths have been people age 60 or older. Residents age 80 and older have made up 535 of the deaths.
Maine has one of the lowest COVID-19 mortality rates in the country. It also has one of the highest median ages of any state.
The state has also vaccinated most of its older population against coronavirus. More than 90% of residents who are age 60 and older are fully vaccinated, compared to 66% for eligible people who are younger than 60.