PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases was growing in Maine, but the number of people eligible for the coronavirus is also about to surge.
Maine is opening up eligibility to everyone in the state who is 16 years old or older on Wednesday. It’s by far the broadcast eligibility expansion yet. Currently, everyone age 50 and older is eligible.
The availability of shots is happening as new cases have trended upward. The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Maine has risen over the past two weeks from 204.57 new cases per day on March 20 to 273.57 new cases per day on April 3. The seven-day rolling average of daily deaths in Maine has also risen over the past two weeks from 0.71 deaths per day on March 20 to 1.29 deaths per day on April 3.
“In the coming days and weeks, we’ll continue to work with our valued partners throughout the state to connect eligible Maine people with doses, particularly those who are at high risk or face barriers to vaccination, which will help move Maine closer to recovery,” said Jeanne Lambrew, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, in a statement.
Some residents might still face a wait in accessing a COVID-19 vaccine because of supply limitations. However, health providers in the state such as Northern Light Health and Martin’s Point have been booking appointments that start on Wednesday. The state is also operating its own pre-registration system.
Dozens of states have opened up access to the vaccine, and April is expected to be a pivotal month for the nationwide rollout. Virus cases have also been rising around the country.
The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday that it has reported nearly 52,000 confirmed virus cases since the start of the pandemic. The agency has also reported 746 deaths.
In other pandemic news in Maine:
Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, released new guidelines on Monday about large gatherings and ticketed events in Maine.
Maine has limited attendance at such gatherings, like festivals and graduations, to try to reduce the spread of coronavirus. Currently, large gatherings are limited to 50% of permitted occupancy, five people per 1,000 square feet or 50 people, whichever is greatest. Those figures will increase on May 24 to 75% of permitted occupancy, five persons per 1,000 square feet, or 50 people, whichever is greatest.
The limits on outdoor gatherings has been 75% of permitted occupancy, and will expand to full capacity on May 24.
The governor’s office said the guidance “aims to provide clarity and predictability for Maine people and businesses in advance of the summer months.”
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