A pair of Maine Senate Democratic leaders have tested positive for COVID-19.

Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, announced late Tuesday he tested positive for the virus and Senate Majority Leader Eloise Vitelli, D-Arrowsic, announced Wednesday that she had also tested positive.

Both were vaccinated and are now isolating at their homes with mild symptoms. They are among the latest breakthrough cases among public officials.

Senate President Troy Jackson Maine Senate Democrats

Jackson said in a statement that he wasn’t experiencing any symptoms but decided to be tested after learning he was a close contact of another person who had tested positive.

“While breakthrough COVID-19 infections are far more rare, we know that they are possible,” Jackson said in the statement. “More and more breakthrough infections continue to be reported all across the state and country due to the highly contagious Delta variant. I’m just extraordinarily grateful for the COVID-19 vaccine, which continues to be effective in preventing severe illness and hospitalization.”

A spokesman for Jackson and Vitelli said they had been working together recently but did not say on what.

Sen. Eloise Vitelli, D-Arrowsic Contributed photo

“For months, we’ve all been wearing our masks, remaining socially distant and doing our best to follow CDC guidelines,” Vitelli said, also in a prepared statement.  “Yet, this positive test result serves as a stark reminder that the Delta variant is highly contagious, and we must remain exceptionally vigilant as we head into the colder months. I would encourage everyone to follow Dr. Nirav Shah’s guidance and get both the COVID-19 vaccine and the flu shot to protect yourself and your loved ones. Let’s take care of each other.”

Jackson and Vitelli are the second and third state senators to publicly announce they had tested positive for the virus and among a handful of legislators to confirm they either tested positive or were sickened by COVID since the onset of the pandemic in March of 2020.

In December, prior to vaccines being widely available, state Sen. Rick Bennett, R-Oxford, announced he had COVID-19. Legislative leaders had decided to delay the start of the session that month following two other COVID-19 cases in the Legislature.

In August, U.S. Sen. Angus King, an independent, announced he had contracted COVID-19 and become ill despite being fully vaccinated.

King, 77, who has since recovered, also praised the effectiveness of the vaccines and said the outcome for him could have been worse had he not been vaccinated.

According to the U.S. CDC, those vaccinated against COVID-19 are five times less likely to become infected and 10 times less likely to be hospitalized or die from it.

Jackson, 53, said his office was informing people he may have been in contact with in recent days.

“We are taking this very seriously and doing our part to protect the health and safety of others,” Jackson said. “I would encourage others who aren’t vaccinated to get vaccinated to protect themselves, their families and their loved ones. The only way we are going to get through this pandemic is if we look out for each other and remain vigilant.”

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