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Mills extends state of emergency as 'race between vaccinations and variants' continues

This is Gov. Janet Mills' 14th extension of the emergency proclamation, which allows to the state to draw on federal resources to respond to the pandemic
Credit: AP

AUGUSTA, Maine — For the 14th time since the coronavirus pandemic began, Gov. Janet Mills has extended the state of emergency declaration through May 13. 

Mills' office said the governor's decision to extend the proclamation, which allows the state to deploy the available tools to respond to and contain COVID-19, "is in line with nearly every other state in the nation which have ongoing emergency declarations," citing the National Governors Association. 

Under Maine law, state of emergency proclamations can be extended in 30-day increments.

“We are in a race between vaccinations and variants," Mills said in a statement. “With nearly half of all eligible Maine people having received at least one dose of a vaccine, we are making progress, but we have got to keep our foot on the gas to get more people vaccinated, to keep people alive and healthy, and to get us back to normal sooner."

As of Tuesday, 47.04 percent of eligible Mainers have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. On Wednesday, the Maine CDC reported additional 547 COVID-19 cases, marking the second day in a row more than 500 cases were reported. 

Maine's current seven-day positivity rate is 3.2 percent, according to the Maine CDC.

There are three COVID-19 variants circulating in Maine and across the country: B.1.1.7, B.1.351, and P.1. According to the CDC, these variants are more contagious, which can lead to more hospitalizations and potentially more deaths. 

In Maine, there are 27 confirmed cases of the B.1.1.7 variant, which was first detected in the UK.

RELATED: CDC: COVID-19 variant first found in Britain now most common in US

"With case counts increasing, and with spring vacation just around the corner for many, I ask all Maine people to keep doing the basic things that keep us safe, like wearing a mask, watching your distance, and avoiding large gatherings, particularly ones indoors," Mills said.