In this Dec. 28, 2021, file photo, masked people walk down Middle Street in Portland. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

The rise of the omicron variant is causing near-vertical COVID-19 case growth in many U.S. states. In Maine, officials expect the same trend to begin here soon.

It comes at a sensitive time in Maine, where hospitals that were at or close to capacity in November broke virus-related hospitalization records in December and are now struggling with increased absences as workers test positive for or are exposed to COVID-19.

Although omicron appears to be milder than other strains, it is far more contagious and infects vaccinated people more. Federal health officials have already shortened quarantine and isolation recommendations in a bid to minimize disruptions to daily life as states redouble efforts to push vaccine boosters.

We want to answer your questions on the omicron variant and the changes it has prompted. Do you have questions on the science behind the strain? What about when to be tested — and how to find tests in shorter supply now — if you feel sick? Send us your questions by using the form below.

Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after three years as a reporter at the Kennebec Journal. A Hallowell native who now lives in Augusta, he graduated from the University of Maine in...