PORTLAND, Maine — As summer gradually winds down, a disconcerting trend emerges on the horizon: the resurgence of COVID-19.
Across the nation, health care workers are witnessing a concerning rise in cases of the deadly virus.
The lack of reporting from individuals who test positive for the virus at home contributes to the uncertainty. While the exact number of cases remains elusive, the available data indicates a noticeable spike in infections over the last couple of months.
"We don't know the exact number because people often don't report results when they test at home," Dr. Dora Anne Mills, chief health improvement officer for MaineHealth, said. "COVID-19 is here for the rest of our lifetimes. It's becoming much more routine, like the flu, but it is much more severe than the flu."
"In addition to hospitalizations, we are seeing quite a few more people seeking care in outpatient settings. Our emergency rooms, urgent care centers, and medical practices are experiencing a significant increase in patients with COVID-19 symptoms," Mills added.
As the new school year approaches, concerns intensify among educators and parents.
Barb Parent is a school nurse at Hampden Academy. Parent is married to a person who works at NEWS CENTER Maine.
"There are new variants coming out of COVID-19, and I've already had my first positive case even before the school year has started," she said. "I wouldn't be surprised if new guidelines are issued."
While schools currently do not mandate COVID-19 boosters, Mills announced that a new booster shot will be available in September.
"Getting these annual boosters will become as common as getting a flu shot," Mills said.
Discussing the potential impact of repeated COVID-19 infections, Mills stressed the importance of vaccination.
"We don't fully know the long-term impact of getting COVID repeatedly," she said. "I urge everyone to get the vaccine because it will protect you much better than getting the illness itself."
Addressing those experiencing symptoms, Mills emphasized the significance of testing. She assured that the state has abundant testing resources, encouraging individuals to seek testing if they display COVID-19-like symptoms.