- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 7, 2020

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - Maine’s state primary can’t safely be held in June as planned, and will likely be postponed until July 14, the state’s governor said Tuesday.

Democratic Gov. Janet Mills said the postponement is about “taking every measure to minimize in-person contact” and avoid spreading coronavirus. She said election officials will try to make sure absentee balloting is utilized to the fullest extent possible when the primary does happen.

“And making sure people’s right to vote, their very precious right to vote, is not impinged,” Mills said.

The state primary, which had been slated June 9, includes high-profile races such as the Democratic race for the right to run against Republican Sen. Susan Collins in November.

Maine already held its presidential primary in March. Democrats in the state picked former Vice President Joe Biden for presidential nominee that day. Voters also defeated a proposal to repeal strict new vaccine laws.



The number of people who have tested positive for the new coronavirus has surpassed 500 in Maine, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control. Another 20 cases of the new coronavirus were recorded and two more people died, bringing the total to 12 COVID-19 deaths, state officials said.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.

TEMPORARY CARE SITES

Mills also said the state will work with health care systems to set up care sites in Portland and Bangor that will free up hospital capacity. She said the plan calls for 100 new beds to be added at Cross Insurance Arena in Portland and at least 50 at Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. Mills said the state hopes “we never need to use these alternative care sites, but we cannot afford to wait to find out.”

SHIPYARD WORKER DIES

A civilian worker at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard died from complications associated with COVID-19, the Navy said.

The employee, who died on Sunday, was assigned to Submarine Maintenance Engineering, Planning and Procurement Activity at the shipyard in Kittery, the Navy said.

Both the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, which overhauls nuclear submarines, and the Bath shipyard, which builds destroyers, are deemed essential to the nation’s defense by the Trump administration.

___

CALL FOR RESIGNATION

Democratic U.S. Reps. Jared Golden and Chellie Pingree on Tuesday called for the resignation of the Navy’s acting secretary for a profanity-laden attack on the ousted commander of an aircraft carrier dealing with the coronavirus.

Acting Secretary Thomas Modly’s personal attacks on Capt. Brett E. Crozier “represent a profound lack of judgment and a callous strain of leadership that are beneath the office he holds,” Golden said in a statement.

Modly has submitted his letter of resignation.

Associated Press reporter David Sharp contributed to this report.

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