On April 3, the New York Times COVID tracker rated Androscoggin County “very high risk” for COVID exposure. The average daily case count per 100,000 people for the last 14 days is 27, the highest in Maine.

For months Androscoggin County has been in the top one or two counties for COVID cases, yet our hospitals only recently opened a “mass vaccination” site. Maine Health and Northern Light Health opened theirs several months ago, and they have a much larger capacity.

What is going on here, that our case counts are high and our institutions have not responded in a timely manner? Have our hospital administrations simply been incompetent? Have they lagged behind because they did not want to spend time or resources to vaccinate the community?

It cannot be that they could not find a location. Possible sites have been obvious for months. Is it because we lack local leadership to help coordinate a mass vaccination site? It took citizen protest before Auburn’s mayor finally agreed to mask during council meetings, although masking was a state mandate.

And why has the newspaper not examined our high rate of COVID and low rate of vaccination? Dr. Peter Millard, an epidemiologist at UNE, was quoted in the Bangor Daily News describing the situation of increasing cases in Maine as “a race against time.”

I hope that Androscoggin County does not prove to be the slow runner on an otherwise winning team.

Bonnie Lounsbury, Auburn

Editor’s note: Androscoggin, Oxford counties among those lagging in vaccinating 70 and older, published Feb. 27; Androscoggin County ranks second-to-last for COVID-19 vaccination rates in Maine, published March 11; Androscoggin County vaccination rate rises, but lags behind state average, published March 31; COVID-19 cases are creeping up in Maine, published April 2.

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