LincolnHealth saw another record high in positive COVID-19 tests last week and it appears that some departments could be headed towards a staffing crisis, according to LincolnHealth spokesperson John Martins.
Of the 1,146 tests conducted during the last week, there were 277 positive cases for a positivity rate of 24.17%, up from 18.82% the week prior. About one in every four individuals tested positive.
Of those positive cases, 152, or 55%, were fully vaccinated. Cases in those under the age of 18 rose to 72, up from 52 the week prior.
LincolnHealth continues to operate at capacity and, in terms of its staffing levels, the hospital is currently at what the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines as “contingency levels,” meaning that administrators are seeking alternative staffing resources and non-emergent procedures are being rescheduled. No LincolnHealth department has yet reached crisis levels.
However, Martins said that staffing, in some cases, appears to be headed in the wrong direction.
“As the number of COVID-positive employees and patients grow, it is more likely than not that some departments/areas will move into the crisis designation,” he said.
Martins said that surgical teams are meeting frequently to determine what surgeries require an overnight stay and whether or not the hospital needs to delay those procedures.
“We continue to try to complete surgeries requiring an overnight stay when a bed is available. We are, however, at the mercy of the hospital’s current occupancy,” he said.
Additionally, with testing levels setting records across the state, test recipients may see a delay in their results.
In other news, beginning Jan. 10, those seeking a booster shot have the option of scheduling an appointment for a booster shot or walk in to the clinic at the Watson Health Center on LincolnHealth’s Miles Campus in Damariscotta when the clinic is open. In addition, on Wednesdays and Thursdays, the hours have been shifted to 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The change was made in the hope that more individuals age 12 and up will receive the booster, after the CDC recently reduced the age requirement.
The Watson Health Center is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, and Friday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday.
Booster appointments can be made at vaccine.mainehealth.org or by calling 877-780-7545. Those registering will need to provide the date of their final COVID-19 shot.
Those who received a Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are eligible for a booster shot six months after their initial series. For those who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, booster shots are recommended after two or more months.
Pediatric COVID-19 vaccinations are now available 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday in the Lincoln Medical Partners Primary Care Office in Damariscotta. Pediatric patients do not need to schedule special appointments.
Pfizer’s vaccine for children ages 5-11 is available in a two-dose series and is administered in a lower dose than the vaccine for adolescents and adults. Just like adults, doses will be administered 21 days apart.
According to Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention data through Jan. 11, since COVID-19 arrived in Lincoln County in March 2020, 3,214 residents have had the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus — 2,755 confirmed cases and 459 probable.
There have been three COVID-19-related deaths in the last week, raising the total to 16 in the county.
According to a graph maintained by the Bangor Daily News, masking is recommended in Lincoln County and every other county in Maine. The U.S. CDC is recommending that people wear face coverings indoors if there is “substantial transmission” of the coronavirus in a county, defined as a weekly case rate of 50 or more cases per 100,000 people.
According to Maine CDC data current as of Jan. 11, for the total population, Lincoln County has a “moderate to high” rate of vaccine doses administered per 100,000 residents relative to other counties in the state at 206,776.48.
The number does not represent fully vaccinated individuals and, since the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines both require two doses, the number can be higher than 100,000.
The census data for Lincoln County provided by the Maine CDC lists a population of 34,634. Of those residents, 25,989, or 75.04%, have received their first dose of the vaccine and 26,651, or 76.95%, have received the second and final dose, according to the agency’s data.
A total of 68,412 doses of vaccine have been administered, up 826 doses from last week. Those counted in the final dose category have either received the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or the single shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
There have been 15,772 additional or booster shots given to Lincoln County residents, up 615 doses from last week.
The vaccine is being provided through all of LincolnHealth’s primary care practices, as well as a booster of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
According to a database maintained by the Maine CDC, vaccine appointments can be requested at Hannaford in Damariscotta, Walgreens in Damariscotta and Boothbay Harbor, Nathan’s Pharmacy in Boothbay Harbor, and Community Pharmacy in Waldoboro.
Patients of Sheepscot Valley Health Center in Coopers Mills can call 549-7581 to make an appointment for a vaccine.
To schedule an appointment at Hannaford, go to hannaford.com/pharmacy/covid-19-vaccine.
To schedule an appointment at Walgreens, go to walgreens.com/schedulevaccine or call 1-800-WALGREENS.
To schedule an appointment at Community Pharmacy, go to communityrx.com/covid-19.
To schedule an appointment at Nathan’s Pharmacy, call 315-2280.
According to Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center, the seven-day average positivity rate for Maine is 18.43%, up from 13.67% last week.
State COVID-19 numbers
According to data current as of Jan. 11, the Maine CDC has reported 156,532 COVID-19 cases in Maine, an increase of 8,315 from the week before. Of those cases, 42,180 are probable.
There have been 3,640 hospitalizations in the state. There have been 1,623 deaths so far from COVID-19 in Maine, including 67 reported in the last week. The statewide case rate is 1,169.5 per 10,000 people, up from 1,107.4 last week.
On Jan. 3, Maine reported 1,779 new cases along with 20 additional deaths.