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In the latest data available from Maine CDC, cases of Covid-19 in Sanford and Springvale continue to increase at a rapid pace, although the number of new cases this week is not as great as last week. With data as of December 20, there are now a cumulative total of 515 cases of the virus in our community, with 418 in Sanford and 97 in Springvale. This represents an increase of 69 total cases, compared to 82 last week. It should be noted that this is still our second highest one-week increase since the pandemic began, so don’t take those masks off just yet.

We reported previously on Maine CDC’s draft plan for vaccinating residents of the state against Covid-19, which has been posted on the state’s website since October. But in one of his regular press briefings since then, Dr. Nirav Shah, Maine CDC’s director, admitted that the posted plan was outdated, and that his agency has not updated it because they are too busy managing the pandemic and vaccine distribution.

Although Dr. Shah has made it clear that Maine will likely adopt whatever priorities the US CDC recommends for vaccine distribution, the US guidelines are somewhat vague, giving authorities in each state some leeway in devising their own schedules. For example, in Phase 1a, the US CDC includes health care workers in all fields and professions, and makes no determination of who among them should go first. In Maine, the first shipments of vaccine are so far being made available only to front line health care workers involved in direct patient care, including EMS professionals. Phase 1a also includes residents of long-term care facilities.

Here in our community, full-time Sanford firefighters, who are all EMS certified, began receiving the first round of shots last week. They are part of a team administering the vaccine to other EMS personnel in York County. Pinnacle Health & Rehab has announced that employees and residents of their long-term care facility here will have their first Covid vaccine clinic on January 2.

At the December 22 City Council meeting, City Manager Steven Buck asked Sanford and Springvale residents not to call the Fire Department with questions about when you can get vaccinated. They do not have that information. He said that more information will be coming soon as prioritizations evolve.

The US CDC’s guidelines for Phase 1b includes two separate groups of people. Frontline essential workers such as fire fighters, police officers, corrections officers, food and agricultural workers, United States Postal Service workers, manufacturing workers, grocery store workers, public transit workers, and those who work in the educational sector (teachers, support staff, and daycare workers); and people aged 75 years and older because they are at high risk of hospitalization, illness, and death from COVID-19.

In Phase 1c, the US CDC includes three more groups: People aged 65—74 years because they are at high risk of hospitalization, illness, and death from COVID-19; people aged 16—64 years with underlying medical conditions which increase the risk of serious, life-threatening complications from COVID-19; and other essential workers, such as people who work in transportation and logistics, food service, housing construction and finance, information technology, communications, energy, law, media, public safety, and public health.

A few more things to know: There is no timeline yet on when vaccines will be available beyond Phase 1a, and no federal guidelines yet for Phases 2 and 3. The vaccines are so far only approved for people age 16 and over.

Photo from Sanford Fire Department.

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