The number of COVID-19 patients in Maine’s intensive care units reached a new high Tuesday as the Maine Army National Guard and federal health care workers began deployments to help hospitals and other health care facilities manage the surge.

A total of 378 people were hospitalized with the disease statewide, with a record 123 in critical care and 60 on ventilators, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Meanwhile, Maine reported 1,383 new cases of COVID-19 and nine additional deaths on Tuesday.

The new infections are the state’s first report in three days because the CDC does not report new case counts on weekends. In addition to the reporting gap, a flood of positive test results means some of the cases reported Tuesday were submitted to the state a week ago or more but were just processed.

The wave of cases this fall and heading into winter has strained hospitals, and deploying the National Guard and federal workers is an attempt to help a maxed-out health care system treat a flood of COVID-19 patients. Hospitals have delayed surgeries and made other moves to cope with the surge, which is fueled mostly by unvaccinated patients.

Thirty-eight National Guard members began work at a variety of health care settings, and a 15-member federal team arrived at Maine Medical Center in Portland on Saturday.


The team of medical professionals from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Disaster Medical System will provide direct patient care for the next two weeks in a new non-COVID, acute care unit, allowing Maine Medical Center to provide 11 additional beds for COVID patients. Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston has applied for similar assistance, and a spokesperson for Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor has said that might be an option there as well.

“We will continue to work closely with our health care and federal partners to monitor the capacity of our system and to take action when and where it is needed in order to support Maine people,” Gov. Janet Mills said in a statement on Monday. “Ultimately, the best and most effective way to relieve the burden on our heroic health care workers is to heed their advice: get vaccinated.”

During the National Guard deployment, which will last through Jan. 26 at least, 15 Guard members will be sent to Saint Joseph’s Manor in Portland and another 12 will go to Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston to work in non-clinical support roles and free up front-line medical staff to work with patients. Having Guard members working at the nursing home will allow hospitals to safely discharge more patients to alleviate a bottleneck that has been occurring because of the high number of COVID-19 patients.

Eleven additional Guard members will be scattered among six other facilities: Stephens Memorial Hospital in Norway, Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington, St. Joseph’s Hospital in Bangor, Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, Northern Light Mercy Hospital in Portland and Northern Light Health in Waterville. They will be working in support roles at clinics that administer monoclonal antibodies, which work to prevent hospitalization of patients in the early stages of COVID-19.

Since the pandemic began, Maine has reported 131,380 cases of COVID-19, and 1,376 deaths. The seven-day average of daily new cases stood at 1,039 on Tuesday, compared to 642 a week ago and 408 a month ago.

Cases have climbed again across the United States to their highest point in two and a half months, but the recent surge remains especially acute in Maine and the Northeast.


Five of the top seven states for cases per capita over the last seven days are all in New England, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Maine ranks fourth in the country with 512 new infections per 100,000 people in the past seven days, more than double the national average of 246 cases per 100,000 people.

Maine’s surge continues to be led by children and teens. Mainers under 20 years old accounted for about 600 of the 1,383 cases reported Tuesday, a pattern that began with the delta variant surge this fall.

The youngest age group was the last to become eligible for vaccines, and children under 5 are still not eligible. While children are less likely to experience serious health complications, some do get sick enough to be hospitalized. Children also help drive the surge by passing the virus to more vulnerable people.


To meet increasing demand for vaccinations, pop-up vaccination clinics have been opening up, offering booster shots, first and second doses and pediatric shots for ages 5-11.

The former Pier 1 at the Maine Mall is hosting a walk-in vaccination clinic operated by Northern Light Health. The hours are 1-7 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday and noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday, as well as 1-7 p.m. on Dec. 21-23. Northern Light also is hosting an appointment clinic at Northern Light Health Center, 885 Union St. in Bangor. To make an appointment, go to or call 207-204-8551.


The Westbrook Fire and Rescue Department is holding a one-day, walk-up clinic from noon to 8 p.m. on Dec. 21 at the Westbrook Community Center at 426 Bridge St.

Slightly more than 70 percent of Maine’s 1.3 million residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, but there are wide disparities among counties. Cumberland County’s vaccination rate is 80.2 percent – the highest in the state – but Piscataquis, Somerset and Franklin counties all have vaccination rates below 60 percent.

The disparity is even greater among the 5- to 11-year-olds who recently became eligible. Cumberland County has given at least the first dose to 54 percent of children in that age range, while rural counties like Piscataquis and Somerset counties have given the first shot to less than 15 percent of their elementary schoolchildren. The statewide average is 33 percent.

Robert Long, Maine CDC spokesman, said on Tuesday that “we’re going to keep striving to make vaccination as easy as possible for everyone age 5 and older in Maine.”

“In 2022, we’ll continue to work with partners, including schools, if they indicate a desire to host or facilitate a clinic. But there’s no reason to wait. Parents can get their children vaccinated at many of the community clinics that have been added in recent days,” Long said.

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