Exactly one year ago this Friday, Maine officials identified the state’s first case of COVID-19.
Since then, more than 720 Mainers have died of the virus and 46,650 cases of it have been reported.
“Today, we pause to remember the more than 527,000 Americans, including more than 720 Mainers, whom we lost over the last year,” said Gov. Janet Mills in a video released Friday morning.
Despite the grim and somber statistics with which Mills began her announcement, a number of positive milestones in Maine’s pandemic response were also reached Friday.
In the afternoon, Mills announced she would make all adults eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines in Maine by May 1, following a statement Thursday evening by President Joe Biden telling states they should make that a target date for adult eligibility.
Under the previous Mills administration plan, the youngest adults in the state would not have been eligible for vaccines until July.
Also on Friday, Maine was ranked highest of all New England states in terms of percentage of population fully vaccinated, according the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker.
The website showed 11.7% of Maine residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19., with Vermont and Massachusetts behind it at 11.5% and 11.3%.
That followed news on Thursday that Maine had administered more vaccines in one day than it had any day before.
Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Nirav Shah called that milestone “a new high mark.”
“No matter the metric, Maine is generally at the top of whatever table you’re looking at,” said Shah, adding that he believes Maine sees generally positive COVID-19 metrics because Mainers “have taken the time to understand COVID.”
One more milestone was reached by the state on Friday.
Buxton firefighters and EMS rescue teams held one Maine’s first COVID-19 vaccine clinics, administering vaccines to more than 300 people who are 60 and older.
Fire Chief Nathan Schools said the dry run was “very smooth and above and beyond anything I could’ve put together on a plan.”
He added that he hopes more clinics like the one the department conducted will be possible to organize across Maine in the future.