1st hospital in Maine to require vaccinations for staff
BELFAST, Maine (AP) — The hospital in a community that was the epicenter of a so-called coronavirus “super spreader” event is going to require all staff be vaccinated, becoming the first hospital in Maine to do so.
All staff at Millinocket Regional Hospital will be required to be fully vaccinated with either Pfizer or Modern vaccines within six weeks of final approval by the Food and Drug Administration, officials said.
“Millinocket Regional Hospital is committed to providing a safe working environment for all employees and the safest environment possible for patients to receive care,” said Dr. Robert Peterson, the hospital’s chief executive officer.
A wedding nearly a year ago in the Millinocket area was linked to outbreaks in at least two other locations in Maine, with more than 170 people contracting the virus and seven deaths since then.
Several other Maine hospitals are in discussions about vaccine requirements after national organizations, including the American Medical Association and the American Nursing Association, urged them to do so.
More Maine hospitals are expected to follow Millinocket in announcing vaccine mandates for employees in the near future, Steven Michaud, president of the Maine Hospital Association, told the Portland Press Herald.
Across Maine, 78.8% of hospital staff were vaccinated as of June 30, according to data from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
The hospital decision came as the highly transmissible delta variant of COVID-19 is spreading across the state and the country.
In other pandemic news:
The state recorded another 111 infections but no deaths over the past 24 hours, the Maine Center for Disease Control said Friday.
Infection are growing in Maine. The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in the state has risen over the past two weeks from 26 new cases a day on July 14 to 68.57 new cases a day on Wednesday.
All told, the number of infections stood at 70,261 and the number of deaths at 899 since he pandemic began, the Maine CDC said.
New federal guidance that everyone wear face coverings indoors in areas of high or substantial transmission applied to only one county in Maine on Friday.
Maine officials announced earlier in the week that the state will align with the new guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cases of the virus have risen in Maine and around the country.
The CDC rates counties as “low,” “moderate,” “substantial” or “high” based on their level of community transmission. Every county in Maine was listed as moderate except Waldo County, which was listed substantial.
The CDC updates the ratings regularly and they are likely to change. Earlier in the week, every county in the state was listed as moderate except for York and Piscataquis.
Democratic Gov. Janet Mills and other Maine officials have encouraged residents to follow the new recommendations and get vaccinated if they have not.