Nurse Cassandra Pateneaude treats a patient in the hallway of the Maine Medical Center emergency department. The Portland hospital and its affiliates have been pushed to the brink by a recent surge of COVID-19 patients, most of whom are unvaccinated. Credit: Courtesy of MaineHealth

Letters submitted by BDN readers are verified by BDN Opinion Page staff. Send your letters to

While vaccination levels have been steadily increasing in Maine since January, and mask mandates in public areas have been lifted, the threat of COVID-19 is still a very serious one. With upcoming holidays and winter vacations, COVID-19 is a major concern for Maine residents.

In fact, our hospitals are seeing record breaking numbers of patients in the intensive care unit due to COVID. As of Wednesday, there were 379 patients in hospitals around the state due to COVID-19. This rapidly rising number was only 361 on Monday. One hundred and seventeen of these patients were in critical care as of Wednesday, with 60 on ventilators. While this may seem like a small number of people, it is not. This number means that there are 379 families waiting for their loved ones to get better.

It is important for us all to remember that COVID does not just affect the patient, but everyone around them as well. COVID-19 may not seem dangerous to young and healthy age groups, but the threat is still there. The disease has no specific age target and everyone is susceptible to it. For those who are unlucky enough to have existing health issues or weaker immune systems, the disease is especially dangerous.

As the holiday season approaches, people should do their part in our community to protect others. Wearing masks correctly, avoiding crowded areas and even just washing their hands more frequently will help. Holidays are not meant to be spent in hospitals.

Audra Brooks