- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 12, 2020

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - Producers of maple syrup, a major agricultural product in northern U.S. states, are now eligible for financial relief to help mitigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Maple syrup is an economic driver in states such as Vermont, New York and Maine, which are the top three producers in the U.S. The industry, like many sectors of agriculture, has taken a hit from the pandemic, which canceled events such as Maine Maple Sunday.

Politicians from northern states, including Maine Gov. Janet Mills and the state’s Congressional delegation, have pushed for aid for syrup producers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Wednesday that producers of the sap used to make maple syrup are now eligible for direct financial relief.

“Like many pillars of our economy, Maine’s maple syrup producers have suffered unprecedented financial hardship caused by the coronavirus pandemic,” said Mills, a Democrat.

Maine alone is home to more than 550 maple syrup producers.



In other news related to the coronavirus pandemic in Maine:

NEW CASES

Maine public health authorities reported an increase of 20 cases of the virus on Wednesday. The total number of reported cases is more than 4,000. The state has had 126 deaths because of the virus.

For most people, the 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.

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COUGH INVESTIGATION

The National Park Service said Wednesday it’s investigating a confrontation in which a person is accused of intentionally coughing on someone at Acadia National Park.

Names of the people involved in the confrontation were not available. A Maine family said someone intentionally coughed on them for not wearing masks at the park, the park service said. The family was outside attending a wedding at the time.

The park service is “taking this report seriously,” park service spokesperson Christie Anastasia said Wednesday.

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TRIBAL HEALTH

An organization that provides health care services to American Indians in Maine has received more than $1 million to expand its public health services.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is providing the money to Wabanaki Health and Wellness, which serves members of tribes in Penobscot, Washington and Aroostook counties. Maine’s two U.S. senators, independent Sen. Angus King and Republican Sen. Susan Collins, said the funding will help “ensure the health and safety of Maine’s tribes amid this devastating public health and economic crisis.”

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