Friday, February 26, 2021

Maine: Why the growing regional disconnect between vaccine need and supply?

In yesterday's Portland Press Herald I explored why the state's top public health official had to essentially do a two-minute advertisement to help the mass vaccination site in Bangor fill vaccination slots while the one serving the county with the largest number of still unvaccinated 70+ year olds continued to run under capacity for lack of vaccine.

The answer was surprising, in that that official -- Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention director Nirav Shah -- and the state's largest hospital network and operator of the southern Maine vaccine site -- have completely contradictory ones. Maine CDC says they continue to give large allocations of vaccine to the Bangor site while those in other parts of the state have huge waiting lists because the other sites don't have the capacity to take more. Not so, says MaineHealth, which says they have latent capacity and been begging for bigger supplies for some time, which Maine CDC isn't giving them.

As you'll see in the story, Shah intimates that MaineHealth hasn't demonstrated an ability to take more, likely an allusion to a scandal involving the vaccination of indelible workers.

For wider context on where Maine stands with the pandemic, consider this "step back and assess" feature I wrote on the last five and half months of the crisis.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Penobscot elder Donna Loring on the future of Maine-tribal relations

Donna Loring has for decades been a major figure in Maine-tribal relations: legislator, tribal council member, aide to two governors, author and public intellectual. Now, fresh off her time as tribal relations advisor to Governor Janet Mills, the Penobscot elder took time to speak with me about her take on the future of the fraught relationship and the prospects for a negotiated reform of the Maine Settlement Act, which restricted Maine tribe's sovereignty.

You can read all about it in this article over at the Maine Sunday Telegram.

For more background on the tribes and the Settlement Act, start here, read about Mills's pardoning of the Passamaquoddy tribe's late attorney Donald Gellers -- driven from the county in a state-directed conspiracy -- and the backstory for understanding the tribes' predicament in "Unsettled," a 32-part series I wrote for the Press Herald a few years back.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Maine and the pandemic: where things stand 11 months on

The second, deadlier coronavirus surge is ebbing in Maine and the U.S. generally -- a good juncture to step back and see where we've been, how things appeared to have played out and why, and what the road looks like ahead. I spoke to experts across the state to put together this story on Act II of the pandemic in this week's Maine Sunday Telegram.

I did a similar story in late August on what I'd now call Act I. Together they provide a sort of first draft of history on this insane time.

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 also fell last week. Details in this story from last Friday's Portland Press Herald.