COVID-19

Maine Tops 3,000 Coronavirus Cases, But Total Remains Low

NECN

Maine public health officials said Wednesday the state has surpassed 3,000 cases of the coronavirus, though the state is still well behind most of the Northeast.

The state recorded 23 new cases of the virus, bringing the total to 3,017, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday. The state also recorded an additional death, bringing that total to 103.

Maine's cases of the virus are dwarfed by the caseload in Massachusetts, which has had more than 107,000 cases and more than 7,800 deaths since the outbreak began earlier this year. Of the six New England states, only Vermont has had fewer coronavirus cases than Maine.

"The bottom line there is that the reason Maine has done well is because, not despite, but because Maine people have adhered to and listened to the science," Maine CDC director Nirav Shah said. 

Maine's coronavirus cases are clustered heavily in the southern counties of Cumberland and York, which account for more than two thirds of the total cases.

The coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.

In other news related to the pandemic in Maine, officials with the state's public university system said Wednesday it plans to avoid a tuition increase related to its response to the coronavirus.

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The University of Maine System began considering its fiscal 2021 budget on Wednesday. The proposal includes a long-planned 2.5% tuition increase, but it does not include any additional tuition or fee increases caused by the pandemic, said system spokesman Dan Demeritt.

The cost of responding to the pandemic at Maine's public universities will likely be more than $20 million in the coming budget year, Demeritt said. He said the pandemic will "have a big impact on operations and revenues this academic year," but the system will still be ready for students in the fall.

The administration of Democratic Gov. Janet Mills released guidance on Wednesday for businesses participating in the state's next phase of reopening, which is set to happen on July 1. The phase applies to businesses such as movie theaters, performance art venues and amusement parks. It also applies to spas and skin care establishments.

The Mills administration also said it is using $35 million to assist local and tribal governments in covering costs incurred by the pandemic. The money is part of the state's $1.25 billion in coronavirus relief funding through the CARES Act.

Mills said the funding is intended to "ease the financial burden that budget-crunched municipalities face" due to the pandemic.

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