Maine’s public university system announced on Wednesday that it will require COVID-19 vaccines for all students who attended campuses starting this fall.
The University of Maine System said it’s also in the midst of discussions about enacting similar rules for faculty and staff. The system said in a statement that the spread of the delta variant played a key role in its decision to require the vaccines.
The university system joins hundreds of other higher education institutions to require COVID-19 vaccines.
Students must have at least their first dose of vaccine by Aug. 20, the system said. They will also be able to request an exemption based on “documented medical contraindication or a sincerely held religious belief,” the system’s statement said.
Students exempted from the requirement and those who haven’t finished a vaccine series will be required to participate in screening and face covering requirements, the system said. The rules don’t apply to students who only participate in remote learning, it said.
Classes are set to begin on Aug. 30. Every campus in the system is scheduled to hold vaccination clinics on campus.
“The data around the Delta variant is sobering and we are expediting our plans to require vaccination for our in-person population as part of our multifaceted approach to student safety and public health this fall,” UMaine Chancellor Dannel Malloy said.
In other pandemic news in Maine:
The City Council in Maine’s largest city has declared an emergency to allow it to keep meeting remotely while cases of coronavirus rise in the state.
The Portland City Council has described the declaration as a “limited emergency” and it went into effect earlier this week. Mayor Kate Snyder told the Portland Press Herald that the move is “to protect the public’s health” and is “the prudent path to take.”
The city had been working on a path to open City Hall to more in-person services, but then coronavirus cases started to rise in Maine and elsewhere in the country. There are some limited in-person services available at City Hall, but many city functions have been moved online.
The state recently recorded its 900th death from coronavirus.
New cases of coronavirus in Maine continued to rise, though the number of new deaths fell.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Maine has risen over the past two weeks from 48.86 new cases per day on July 19 to 91.57 new cases per day on Aug. 2. The seven-day rolling average of daily deaths in Maine decreased over the past two weeks, going from 2.86 deaths per day on July 19 to 0.29 deaths per day on Aug. 2.
The AP is using data collected by Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering to measure outbreak caseloads and deaths across the United States.
The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported there have been more than 70,000 cases of the virus in the state since the start of the pandemic. About 70% of the state’s eligible population is fully vaccinated against coronavirus.
The state is recommending people wear masks indoors in areas of high or substantial transmission of the virus. That included five of the state’s 16 counties on Wednesday. The counties were York, Lincoln, Waldo, Somerset and Penobscot.

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