This is what we mean when we say we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Maine on Tuesday reported 571 new coronavirus infections, the highest total since late January, and part of a nationwide surge in cases.

But just 6 percent of those cases were among Mainers age 60 and older – the segment of the population that has received the highest percentage of COVID vaccinations.

That suggests that the vaccines are doing what they were designed to do – and that if enough people get their shots, we can get COVID under control.

But that’s our choice, as a state and as individuals. Of the 571 cases Tuesday, 52 percent were among people under 30. If we’re not careful, the virus could easily spin out of control.

Take Michigan, where an outbreak is causing cases to reach near-record levels even as vaccinations begin to provide protection. The percentage of positive cases there is hovering around 18 percent of tests, indicating there is broad community spread. Cases among those ages 10-19 are rising faster than any other group.

The state has been asking for more doses of vaccine, while the federal government is asking that Michigan go back into some version of lockdown. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, the target of a kidnapping plot over her previous lockdown orders, is reluctant to issue another one; it’s unclear if it would change behaviors enough to make a difference.

It’s a bad spot to be in. And we know that with this virus, cases can grow exponentially – there’s just not that much space between what is happening in Michigan and what is happening here.

To avoid that fate, we need Mainers to continue to line up for shots.

The announcement Tuesday that the use of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be paused while regulators investigate extremely rare cases of blood clots makes that harder, particularly among the hard-to-reach populations the one-shot dose was being used to cover.

But all indications are that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is safe and will be returned to use; once it is given the go-ahead, Mainers should not be hesitant to take it.

The rest of the indicators related to the vaccines could not be better. Hospitalizations and deaths as a result of COVID are falling nationwide among older Americans, matching the same results in Israel, where the vaccination program is ahead of ours, and vaccines are at least a part of the reason.

Studies among health care workers in California and Texas, conducted during large surges of the virus, found infections among those fully vaccinated was extremely rare.

Those encouraging signs are the light we see at the end of the tunnel.

Sign up for your shot and get it as soon as you can. In the meantime, be as cautious as you can be, and we’ll all come out the other side together.


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