People leave a vaccine clinic during a winter snow storm, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021, in South Portland, Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Scammers who use a false promise of a COVID-19 vaccine have attracted the attention of a federal prosecutor.

U.S. Attorney Halsey Frank of Maine said federal, state and local agencies have fielded complaints about the scams. The scammers typically use demand for the vaccine as a way to pry personal information such as Social Security numbers from victims.

Frank called the scammers “ruthless and relentless” and added “everyone needs to have their guard up.” He said everyone in the state should be skeptical of unsolicited offers of the coronavirus vaccine.

Frank also said residents should check with the state state health department for accurate information on availability of the vaccine.

In other pandemic news in Maine:



The positivity rate continued to fall in Maine.

The latest average positivity rate in Maine is 3.59%. State health departments are calculating positivity rate differently across the country, but for Maine the AP calculates the rate by dividing new cases by test specimens using data from The COVID Tracking Project.

The seven-day rolling average of the positivity rate in Maine did not increase over the past two weeks, going from 9.83% on Jan. 18 to 3.59% on Feb. 1.

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention has reported more than 39,000 positive cases of the virus since the start of the pandemic. It also reported Tuesday that 618 deaths can be attributed to the virus.



Some coronavirus vaccination clinics were closed on Tuesday due to a snow storm. MaineHealth announced cancellation of clinics planned for Westbrook, Brunswick, Norway, Boothbay and Belfast, the Portland Press Herald reported.

The storm wasn’t expected to delay the opening of a clinic at Scarborough Downs on Wednesday. A clinic at Cross Insurance Center in Bangor was still expected to open on Tuesday.



An outbreak of coronavirus at a homeless shelter in Portland has sickened 21 people, Maine CDC director Dr. Nirav Shah said Tuesday.

The outbreak has affected five staff members and 16 clients of the shelter, Shah said. The state is working with the shelter on universal testing, quarantine and safe isolation, he said.

The shelter outbreak is the subject of an ongoing investigation, Shah said.