A sign on a downtown Portland business door tells customers a face mask is required for entry on Dec. 9, 2021. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

A team of Federal Emergency Management Agency health care workers is coming to Maine this weekend amid a rapid rise in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations. 

It comes a day after Gov. Janet Mills announced that the state would deploy 75 National Guard members to help overburdened hospitals in a non-medical capacity. The state also reported a record number of hospitalizations and Mainers in critical care on Wednesday.

Accepting a request from Gov. Janet Mills’ administration earlier this week, FEMA will bring in 14 physicians, nurses and paramedics to assist staff at Portland’s Maine Medical Center who are caring for patients with COVID-19 and other serious illnesses. A request was also made to aid Lewiston’s Central Maine Medical Center, but that request is still pending, according to the administration.

“With this federal team and our soon-to-be-deployed National Guard members, I am hopeful that we can begin to alleviate the strain on our health care system and ensure critical care for those who need it,” Mill said.

The FEMA team is expected to stay in Portland until Dec. 23.

Maine Medical Center is the state’s largest hospital at 637 beds, while Central Maine Medical Center has been heavily hit by the pandemic in recent months. It and two sister hospitals in Rumford and Bridgton were completely full late last month and it called on Mills to ease her vaccine mandate for health care workers amid wider staffing shortages in October.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated where the team of federal health care workers will be located.

Leela Stockley is an alumna of the University of Maine. She was raised in northern Maine, and loves her cat Wesley, her puppy Percy and staying active in the Maine outdoors.