Clash Continues Over When to Reopen Maine

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Monday marks the end of a weekend of more loud discontent over Maine's civil state of emergency that remains in effect until May 31.

On Friday, the same day certain businesses in the state like hair salons and pet groomers were allowed to reopen, 100 people showed up outside Sunday River Brewing Company in Bethel as owner Rick Savage opened up his restaurant in defiance of state orders.

By the end of the day, Savage's liquor and health licenses had been taken away by the state.

The following day, hundreds of people protested outside the Blaine House, Maine Gov. Janet Mills' official residence, urging her to reopen the state's economy in full and rescind her emergency powers.

"I think you need to listen to your constituents, Gov. Mills, they are overwhelmingly opposed to the plan you have presented," said Republican Maine State Sen. Stacey Geurin.

The same day, GOP leaders in both houses sent a letter to Maine's speaker of the House and Senate leader urging them to reconvene the legislature.

By Sunday, President Donald Trump had tweeted about the discontent in Maine, saying people in the state had "many complaints" about the reopening plan.

Hundreds gathered outside the Massachusetts State House to call for Gov. Charlie Baker to end his regulations to curb the spread of coronavirus.

But according to a 298-page joint study from Harvard, Northeastern and Rutgers Universities released on Thursday, with information collected in mid-April, 81% of Maine residents believe the state's government is reacting properly.

"Folks in Maine seem remarkably willing to wait," said study co-author Dr. David Lazer from Northeastern University. "It suggests those protesters are not representative of a lot of people."

According to Lazer, the nationwide survey, which looked at sample groups in all 50 states across multiple demographic and political spectrums, showed wide, non-partisan consensus favoring staying at home over reopening economies too quickly.

"We found very little support for an immediate reopening of the states," the study said. "In fact, majorities of respondents in all but one state (Idaho) supported waiting a month or more prior to reopening."

As of Monday, there were a total of 1,205 positive cases in Maine, with 57 fatalities. In total, 720 patients have recovered and 186 remain hospitalized.

"There is substantial agreement that the state governments of respondents are reacting properly (72%)," the study went on to say. "States that rank relatively low in this regard include: Hawaii (55%), Florida (60%), Iowa (60%), Oklahoma (60%), South Carolina (63%), and Georgia (64%). Notably high are Ohio (84%), Massachusetts (84%), Rhode Island (83%), Connecticut (81%), Kentucky (81%), Maryland (81%), Maine (81%), and New Hampshire (80%)."

Though it is only one study, it is a scientific one that Lazer says the schools plan to continue conducting on a bi-weekly basis as the pandemic goes on to provide a public resource that measures public opinion for policy makers and the general public.

More information on the COVID-19 Consortium for Understanding the Public's Policy Preferences Across States can be found at

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