Governor Mills: Our health care workers are pleading with us to get vaccinated. Please hear them. 

January 14, 2022

This week, I activated another 169 members of the Maine National Guard to help alleviate short-term capacity constraints at Maine’s hospitals and to maintain access to inpatient health care for Maine people amid record-high COVID-19 hospitalizations.  

This is Governor Janet Mills and thank you for listening.

Maine, like much of the nation, is seeing record hospitalizations during a sustained surge of COVID-19. As of the time of this recording, 413 people are lying in a hospital with COVID-19 in Maine, including 106 people in critical care and 57 on ventilators. There are currently only 40 available ICU beds, intensive care unit, beds in Maine.

The majority of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Maine are not fully vaccinated.

I wish we did not have to activate more National Guard members, but the rise in hospitalizations – caused primarily by those who are not vaccinated – is stretching the capacity of our health care system thin, it’s jeopardizing care for Maine people for non covid matters, and it’s putting increased strain on our already exhausted health care workers.

I saw this first hand last week when I toured the COVID-19 ICU unit at Maine Medical Center in Portland. They told me that 40 percent of the people in the unit would likely die. 

All but one of those people were unvaccinated.

Think about that for a minute. 

It doesn’t have to be this way – and we know what the solution is.

Our health care workers are pleading with us to get vaccinated. Please hear them. 

It’s not only the best way to lift the heavy burden on their shoulders, but it may very well save your life or someone else’s.

And it will help make room for people with cardiac conditions, cancer care, accident victims and others who desperately need hospital care.

And it will allow us to send the members of the National Guard back home to their families, to their communities, and to their jobs where they are so badly needed.

For now, though, these additional Guard members will join others who are already on orders supporting COVID-19 response efforts.

They will also be helped by Federal COVID-19 Surge Response Teams for MaineHealth in Portland and Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston.

Those two teams of seven clinicians have already arrived and are scheduled to stay through January 27. They will administer COVID-19 vaccines, freeing up Maine clinicians to provide patient care at hospitals. 

Look, the bottom-line here is that the most fundamental way to help our hospitals and help our health care workers and help keep kids in school is very simply to get vaccinated, whether it’s your first shot or your third. 

Please visit Maine.gov/covid19/vaccines or call the Community Vaccination Line at 1-888-445-4111 to find a vaccination site near you.

It’s free, it’s easy, it’s safe, it’s effective.

This is Governor Janet Mills. Please stay safe and thank you for listening.