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Maine CDC director urges people to get updated bivalent booster as COVID-19 hospitalizations rise

Hospitalizations have reached levels that Maine hasn't seen since May 2022.

AUGUSTA, Maine — The number of people in Maine hospitals with COVID-19 reached levels the state had not seen since May 2022 on Friday.

Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah addressed the recent rise on Thursday, explaining that many of the patients go to the hospital for non-COVID health reasons, but later learn that they have the virus during routine screening testing.

"When you've got more people in the hospital coming in for broken arms and heart attacks, and the same percentage of them test positive for COVID, you're just going to get more COVID cases," Dr. Shah said.

Hospital staff told the Maine CDC 60 to 70 percent of the patients they are treating come in for non-COVID health reasons.

Shah warned that rates of the virus are rising across the northeast, including in Maine, and that some of those people catching it are going to the hospital.

"We don't have any reasons to believe that they are they are significantly worse than what was circulating back in March, April, or May," Shah said. "The virus is going to virus and it's going to mutate in the process."

Shah is urging people to get the updated bivalent booster shots, which target both the omicron variant, which is the dominant strain in Maine, and the original version of the virus.

"Getting your updated COVID shot and your flu shot is how you winterize your body. It's one of the best things you can do to keep yourself safe and your family safe," Shah said. "Now's a great time, but the longer you wait, the more important it becomes to do it urgently."

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