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Shah urges layers of protection for Mainers celebrating Thanksgiving together

The Maine CDC director said encouraging relatives to get vaccinated can make an impact.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Dr. Nirav Shah is worried about Maine’s COVID numbers rising in the weeks after Thanksgiving.

“It’s concerning,” the director of Maine’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention said, shaking his head during a press conference Wednesday. “I’m not raising the alarm bells here. We’ve raised them and rung them for weeks now.”

As Mainers weigh the emotional need to gather with loved ones, Shah explained how the state faces a seven-day average for positive COVID PCR tests of 8.9%.

He suggested Mainers who plan to have family join them for the holiday use multiple tactics to reduce the chance of spreading COVID among loved ones.

Masking, distancing, home ventilation, and testing prior to showing up are all on the table. But, Shah said, the most important piece of protection is testing.

“Have a hard conversation with individuals who may be coming who are not yet vaccinated, to see if they are willing to get a shot,” he said. “Now, hard conversations are hard, but they can pay off.”

Shah said holiday gatherings will almost certainly lead to more transmission among Mainers in the weeks following Thanksgiving.

He reiterated that most serious COVID cases and hospitalizations are among those unvaccinated.

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