At the COVID-19 briefing today, Governor Janet Mills, the first woman governor of Maine, confirmed that she is quarantining at her Blaine House office, which is her residence near the State House in Augusta. Her quarantine began yesterday and is expected to last until December 12, 2020. The Governor is scheduled to receive a PCR test tomorrow, December 3rd. This PCR is not a rapid test. This schedule will mark the five days since the likely exposure which is within the recommended time period for testing after potential exposure given the number of days it can take the virus to reproduce and be detected, if present, according to a press release issued yesterday by the Governor’s office. The Governor was exposed last Saturday to a member of her security team last Saturday who has since tested positive for COVID-19. The exposure was brief and both parties were wearing masks and the Governor is complying with CDC guidelines.
Dr. Nirav Shah, Director of the MaineCDC, announced there have been 232 new cases of the virus since yesterday. That brings the total number of cases to 12,280 and the number of deaths up to 281 as of today’s briefing. There have been 11 new outbreaks of the virus – one at The Landing, Cape Elizabeth, an assisted living facility, with three cases, since Monday Dr. Shah said. The 7-day positivity rate has jumped up to 4.36%, but still less than the national average.
Currently, Maine is scheduled to receive about 12,600 doses of the vaccine starting later this month. Initially, Maine had expected to receive 36,000 doses. This first dose will be reserved for health care workers, but is not expected to cover all of them.. A “finer distinction will be based on risk of exposure,” said Dr. Shah as to which health care workers will receive the first round of vaccine. Certain procedures will determine that increased risk for health care workers. Dr. Shah said we need to keep them healthy for their personal benefit as well as to keep them healthy to continue working in this environment.
Governor Mills said that in a recent telephone meeting with the White House Coronavirus Task Force Leader VP Pence, she and other Governors were told that the number of vaccine doses to be distributed state-by-state is based on a unique population formula. Other states on the conference call also expressed disappointment at the lower than anticipated number of vaccination doses. That number in Maine does not jibe with the White House figure. The Governor has done the math using the formula used by the White House Task Force. She comes up with a different number of doses to be distributed to Maine based on the state’s population. The Governor said her administration continues to try to get to the bottom of this perplexing situation. In her introductory remarks at the outset, the Governor said that so far the states are being expected to bear the cost of the distribution, despite requests from her and many other Governors for financial assistance in that expensive and unanticipated cost.
Dr. Shah said that the Maine CDC is currently evaluating the new guidelines set forth by the federal government regarding a possible shortening of the quarantine under certain circumstances that includes negative testing.