Maine Gov. Janet Mills is isolating after testing positive for COVID-19 with a BinaxNOW rapid test on Thursday.
According to statements from Mills' office, she still has, "a mild scratchy throat but is otherwise feeling well," she is fully vaccinated, has received two COVID-19 vaccine booster doses and is taking the oral antiviral Paxlovid, which has been authorized for use by the FDA, but not fully approved by the federal agency.
"Paxlovid is extremely effective at preventing hospitalizations from COVID-19," a spokesperson with the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention told NECN and NBC10 Boston on Friday. "Maine CDC continues its work to ensure easy access to COVID-19 therapeutic treatments."
Vice President Kamala Harris has also been receiving doses of Paxlovid after testing positive for COVID-19 earlier in the week, and the White House has recently mentioned the oral medication produced by Pfizer as a resource growing in supply that could be used be more Americans who contract the virus.
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"I still think the medication is probably underutilized," said Dr. James Jarvis, senior physician executive at Northern Light Health, one of the largest healthcare networks in Maine.
During a Friday interview with NECN and NBC 10 Boston, Jarvis explained that he has seen data showing that some people who take Paxlovid are as much as 80-85% less at risk for developing severe COVID symptoms or requiring hospitalization if they take the drug within five days of a positive test.
However, he noted that the medication would typically be prescribed to people who face certain risks from the virus, such as "people over the age of 60, people with underlying health conditions, or are currently being treated with medications that cause them to be immune compromised."
"It does interact with a lot of common medications that people use, particularly those with chronic health conditions," he added, explaining that a physician or pharmacist would have to "review" a patient's health history before administering the drug.
"For people who aren't on any of those medications, it can be a life-saving medication," he said.
Jarvis also cautioned that Paxlovid is not "a replacement for vaccines" or booster doses, but it could be an alternative to monoclonal antibody treatments which "require an infusion or injection."
According to NBC News, the White House announced this week that it planned to make Paxlovid available at 40,000 care facilities like pharmacies, clinics and health centers.
Mills' office added that she is "grateful for the outpouring of support and is continuing to work hard for Maine people."
She attended an event at Southern Maine Community College on Thursday. The college has since recommended in an email notice that anyone who thinks they are a close contact of Mills or develops COVID-19 symptoms should get a PCR test on May 3, which would be five days after their potential exposure.