Lines were long at the vaccination clinic at the Westbrook Community Center on Dec. 21., but moved fairly quickly. Chance Viles / American Journal

A Westbrook Fire Department walk-in COVID-19 vaccination and booster clinic drew over 500 people Tuesday as the city steps up its ongoing efforts to mitigate the impact of the latest surge of the virus.

From Dec. 6-12, the city had about 60 new cases of the coronavirus, according to the Maine CDC. The total number of cases in the city is of 2,039, up 285 from the total of 1,754 reported as of Oct. 24.

A Westbrook firefighter gives resident Dennis Fecteau a COVID-19 vaccination booster shot. Fectau said he wanted to make sure he didn’t get sick before seeing family over the holidays. Chance Viles / American Journal

Westbrook schools are dealing with rising cases as well, with the middle school being the first in the district to go remote because of the number of virus cases last week. In-person instruction resumed at the school this week. As of Tuesday, the district had 43 active cases, according to Superintendent Peter Lancia. The middle school has had 49 cases since the start of the school year and district, 165.

Superintendent Peter Lancia reported Tuesday 49 cases at the Middle School and 165 cases district-wide since school started, and 43 active cases in the district as of Dec. 21st.

Cumberland County has had 26,821 cases overall, with around 150 new cases each week on average. County COVID rates have not been this high since last winter, currently topping any case rates from the fall or summer. York County has had the second highest number of cases in the state with 22,480 as of Dec. 21.

The Fire Department is seeing an increased number of calls because of  COVID-19, many from patients who are very sick with respiratory symptoms, according to interim Chief Steven Sloan. The department will surpass last year’s total ambulance calls of 4,000 by over 600 calls, a 20% increase that is significantly higher than the usual yearly increase of 1-2%, he said.


“That’s a huge additional amount of calls. Most of that is COVID-related. But some of it is ancillary, more people at home and that in turn drives call volume,” Sloan said. “But these are significant jumps.”

Some residents who turned out Tuesday for the department’s vaccination clinic at the Westbrook Community Center told the American Journal they wanted booster shots before the holidays.

A Moderna booster shot is administered to a patient at the Westbrook vaccination clinic on Tuesday. Chance Viles / American Journal

“I am going to see my grandkids and felt I should get it,” resident Dennis Fecteau said. ” If I go on a vacation I cannot get sick or get anyone sick.”

Mariah Harmon, who works with the Westbrook School Department, said part of why she turned to get a booster was to protect her and her students from variants of the virus.

“It’s important to do your part,” she said.

Resident Maria Hume agreed.


“I am not as worried (about other variants), but wanted to get it,” Hume said. “Having it at the Community Center certainly makes it easier.”

The COVID-19 testing site at Westbrook’s Public Safety building continues to pump out 125 tests or so a day, but that number is expected to more than double. The clinic recently switched from nasal swab tests to saliva testing, which is processed at a different lab, and Sloan said they think they’ll be able to conduct up 300 tests per day with results available in a day or two, rather than the two-to-three day turnaround with the nasal tests.

“The big push behind this is that the state CDC lab is overcapacity on what they can process for tests, so they are looking to divert testing to other labs,” Sloan said.

The department has conducted more than 40,000 tests since it began offering the test site in July 2020, and Sloan gives full credit to his staff for that.

“None of this could happen at the testing site, vaccine site if it wasn’t for them,” he said. “They are going above and beyond every day. They are tired, they are experiencing COVID fatigue, but they see the importance of these programs and are willing to do it.”

Sloan estimates about 6% or a little more are positive tests.

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