LEWISTON – The state’s newest mobile COVID-19 vaccination unit wrapped up its first stop on a multi-city tour on a quiet note Friday with just a few people showing up in the final hour of the clinic in Lewiston.
The mobile clinic run by Promerica Health of Falmouth and Maine Department of Health and Human Services opened May 7 in partnership with the city. The 1,000-shot capacity clinic vaccinated about 50 people the first day at its site at the municipal parking garage in Lewiston.
Diana Parkenski, 57, of Auburn said she had been looking for an opportunity to get vaccinated but said Friday that her work schedule made it difficult to find an appointment. She found out about the mobile clinic a couple of days ago and came in just before it closed at noon Friday.
“I asked if I could just walk up and they said yes,” so she got the shot.
Earlier this week, Maine announced “Your Shot to Get Outdoors,” an incentive program to encourage people to get at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine before the end of the month.
Parenski said the program, which offers L.L. Bean gift cards, Portland Sea Dog and Oxford Plains Speedway tickets and free hunting and fishing licenses didn’t influence her decision to get vaccinated because she wasn’t even aware of it.
Still, it worked in her favor: “I was going to get a fishing license anyway.”
A representative from Promerica Health did not return a request for the total number of shots administered.
The clinic goes to Poland next, following by other cities and towns in Androscoggin County before returning to give out second doses.
As of Friday, 42.9% of all Androscoggin County residents have received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine and 38.7% have gotten their final doses. Those numbers rise to 50.1% and 45.1% when considering only the eligible population, or Mainers 12 years and older.
In Oxford County, 41.5% and 38.4% of all residents have gotten their first and final shots, respectively. In Franklin County, 40.1% and 39.8% of residents have gotten their first and final shots, respectively.
The three counties remain in the bottom half of Maine’s 16 counties in getting shots into arms.
Meanwhile, state health officials reported 305 new cases of COVID-19 Friday, including 42 in Androscoggin County, 17 in Oxford County and five in Franklin County. There was one additional death, a woman in her 70s from Franklin County.
Hospitalizations throughout the region and the state have also sustained high numbers Friday. The state reported 123 hospitalizations, three more than Thursday. Forty four of the patients hospitalized are in critical care and 23 are on ventilators.
The majority of those in critical care and those connected to ventilators are at Portland’s Maine Medical Center, according to data collected by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston has the next highest number of in-patients in critical care in the state, with eight patients listed in critical care and three connected to ventilators.
The Sun Journal in the past week has received four complaints directly from people stating that their ill family members had to wait upwards of five to nine hours in the emergency department before being seen and that staff told them that their ill family members would not be admitted to the hospital because it “needed the beds.” At least two of the individuals said that the hospital, especially the emergency department, was understaffed.
“Central Maine Healthcare aims to provide exceptional care to every patient every day,” Dr. John Alexander, Chief Medical Officer at CMHC, wrote in a statement Friday evening. “We continuously strive to improve the care we provide and welcome feedback from our patients.”
Alexander pointed to patient relations hotlines where patients and their families can voice their concerns.
“We regret when we fall short of the high standard we set for ourselves and work to make it right for our patients,” he said.
Androscoggin County’s seven-day average of daily new COVID-19 cases Friday was 43.3, a slight decrease from Thursday’s average of 44.7. There was an increase of less than one in Oxford County’s average of 15.6, though it has largely been trending downward since a peak average of 33 cases on April 20.
Franklin County’s seven-day average of new cases was also an increase compared to Thursday’s at six cases and has not seen the sustained downward trends in Androscoggin and Oxford counties.