COVID Cases Climb in Maine; Lawmaker Who Mocked the Virus Reportedly Has It

Most of the people being hospitalized in Maine are unvaccinated and are getting sicker than those admitted earlier in the pandemic, according to a top official at MaineHealth

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A Maine lawmaker who poked fun at vaccines and COVID-19 has reportedly fallen ill with the virus.

Republican state Rep. Chris Johansen, a Republican from Monticello in Aroostook County, has COVID-19, per Twitter posts from an author for alternative news website Mainer.

According to the Portland Press Herald, Johansen "has been cited twice for breaking mask-wearing rules at the State House."

A reporter from that newspaper reached Johansen last Friday, and he told the publication, "I'm not doing well. I'm not feeling well."

NECN and NBC10 Boston contacted Johansen on Monday but he hung up after learning he was being contacted by a reporter.

World-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma held multiple pop-up performances in Maine's Acadia National Park.

More broadly in the state, COVID-19 cases have climbed slowly, with Maine seeing its largest single-day increase in positive tests since May on July 22.

According to Dr. Dora Anne Mills, the chief health improvement officer for MaineHealth, which operates Maine Medical Center, her health care group is not seeing a spike in hospitalizations along with increasing statewide cases but is seeing the people being admitted trend younger.

They also are mostly people who are unvaccinated and are getting sicker than those admitted earlier in the pandemic.

"The people who are hospitalized with COVID are more seriously ill than they were a year ago," said Mills, who is also the sister of Maine Gov. Janet Mills.

"The evidence is overwhelming that the vaccine is working and working well and that the few case we're seeing of people who are fully vaccinated and getting COVID, they are not getting hospitalized," the doctor explained.

"There's one exception to that, and those are people who have very immune-compromised conditions, in situations such as undergoing cancer chemotherapy or having a kidney transplant," Mills added.

The bottom line message from MaineHealth officials is that vaccines are very much available and if you have not gotten one, now is the time to do so.

Mills said she has heard of local people suffering from COVID-19 who have regretted not getting the shots, some of whom have died.

"I have heard of some people very, very seriously ill who have verbalized they are so regretful they didn't get vaccinated. I feel terrible for them and their families," she said.

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