Maine Hospitals Overwhelmed With Unvaccinated Patients Forces National Guard Activation

Maine Governor Janet Mills activated the state's National Guard to assist hospital staff amid a rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations among unvaccinated residents.

"The Governor's decision follows discussions with Maine's hospital systems and comes as Maine and the rest of New England experience record hospitalizations during a sustained surge of COVID-19 driven almost entirely by the Delta variant," Mills' office said in a statement on Wednesday.

The statement continued, "The vast majority of people hospitalized in Maine are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19. As of today, there are a record high 379 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Maine, including 117 in critical care and 60 on ventilators. There are currently 42 available intensive care unit (ICU) beds available in Maine."

Seventy-five additional members of the state's National Guard will be activated, according to the statement. They will be used to provide support for nursing home facilities and to help administer "monoclonal antibodies to prevent serious illness from COVID-19 and keep Maine people out of critical care."

National Guard
Maine activated its National Guard on Wednesday to assist with hospital capacity issues due to COVID-19. Above, National Guard troops stand by as people wait to be tested for COVID-19 at New York's first Drive Through COVID-19 Mobile Testing Center on March 13, 2020, in New Rochelle. Timothy A. Clary/Getty

Mills urged residents to get vaccinated against the novel coronavirus and said, "I do not take this action lightly, but we must take steps to alleviate the strain on our health care system and ensure care for all those who need it. I am grateful to the members of the Guard and to our heroic health care workers for their tireless efforts. Just as they are stepping up, so, too, must Maine people."

Maine's Commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services, Jeanne Lambrew, applauded Mills' decision and said, "We are profoundly grateful for the Governor's decisive action and our health care workers'—and National Guard's—heroic work."

According to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), 79 percent of Maine's intensive care unit (ICU) beds are currently in use. The data also shows that 35.1 percent of ICU beds are being used by COVID-19 patients.

Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that over 70 percent of Maine residents are considered fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Governors in New York and Minnesota have also recently activated members of the National Guard to help assist hospital staff amid a surge in COVID-19 cases.

Last week, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz activated the state's National Guard "to support long-term care facilities facing severe staffing shortages," his office said in a statement.

Earlier this month, New York Governor Kathy Hochul activated 120 National Guard members to assist staff members in nursing homes.

Newsweek was directed to Mills' press release after reaching out to her office for further comment.