MAINE UPDATE: The Maine Center for Disease Control is keeping close watch on an individual who tested positive for a more contagious strain of the coronavirus that originated in the United Kingdom. The U.K. variant was detected in a sample from a Franklin County resident who had a recent history of international travel. Dr. Nirav Shah says that person is doing OK. Good public health practices are helping to curb the spread of the virus as is Maine's vaccination effort. So far, more than 63,000 Mainers have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Another 162,000 people have received their first dose of the vaccine.

AROOSTOOK COUNTY UPDATE: Starting Friday, Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacies will begin vaccinating Mainers 70 and older. They will be receiving more than 4 thousand COVID vaccine doses each week as part of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program. The vaccine will be available by appointment at Walmart pharmacies in Presque Isle and Houlton and 22 other stores around the state.

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NEW BRUNSWICK UPDATE: New Brunswick Public Health confirmed on Thursday that an individual in their 80s at a residential facility in Edmundston has died as a result of underlying complications, including COVID-19. The number of active cases in the province is down to 161, with most of them in the Edmundston region.

Dr. Gordon Dow, an infectious disease specialist with Horizon Health Network says that while COVID-19 variants do pose a threat, people can control the spread of all strains of the virus by wearing a mask in public, maintaining a safe physical distance and getting tested if they have any symptoms. Dow said, “The COVID-19 variants are 30 to 70 per cent more contagious.” But, he said "If we all keep following Public Health guidelines, while the provincial government works to vaccinate our most vulnerable residents, New Brunswick will remain a leader in our response to the virus.”

LOOK: Answers to 30 common COVID-19 vaccine questions

While much is still unknown about the coronavirus and the future, what is known is that the currently available vaccines have gone through all three trial phases and are safe and effective. It will be necessary for as many Americans as possible to be vaccinated in order to finally return to some level of pre-pandemic normalcy, and hopefully these 30 answers provided here will help readers get vaccinated as soon they are able.

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