- Associated Press - Monday, June 8, 2020

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - Maine Gov. Janet Mills said Monday visitors will be able to come to the state without self-quarantining if they can certify that they recently received a negative coronavirus test result.

Mills, a Democrat, said the new approach takes effect July 1 and is based on the concept of “know before you go.” The state will also step up symptom checks at places where visitors often go, she said.

The move is significant for Maine’s economy, which is heavily dependent on summer tourism, Mills said.

“It is my hope that by creating layers of protection to reduce the risk of transmission of the virus this plan will protect public health, establish Maine as a safe place to visit, and allow tourists to come to Maine to support our small businesses,” she said.

New Hampshire and Vermont residents are exempt from the new compliance measures, Mills said.



In other news related to the virus in Maine:

BICENTENNIAL POSTPONED

The Maine Bicentennial Commission said Monday it’s postponing commemorative activities to 2021. The Maine Statehood Day Ceremony is tentatively scheduled for March 14, and the parade in Auburn and Lewiston is slated for May 15.

The commission’s chairman, state Sen. Bill Diamond, said it’s a disappointment that the events can’t take place this year due to the virus. He said the postponement is an opportunity for “celebrating and reflecting on the State of Maine when we can all do so safely and joyfully next year.”

MORE TESTING

Mills also said the state is going to quadruple its testing capacity at its lab and develop testing sites throughout the state. She said Monday that the push represented a move toward “radically expanded testing capacity.”

The state is working with IDEXX Laboratories to create a new mobile lab that will be anchored at the state lab in Augusta, the office said.

The state will also develop “swab and send” locations around the state to make sure 90% of Maine residents can get tested within a half hour of their home, Mills said. She called the increased testing “another breakthrough for Maine in the fight against COVID-19.”

The expanded capacity is set to come online in July. Maine also expanded testing access last month.

THE NUMBERS

More than 2,500 people have contracted coronavirus in Maine. The state CDC said Monday that the number of deaths held steady at 99. There were 18 new cases in total.

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.

HOSPITAL HELP

The federal government has given Maine’s hospitals a funding boost to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded the hospitals more than $1.3 million as part of $350 million it is allocating around the country. It was the second wave of funding. Maine has received nearly $3 million in total.

U.S. Sens. Susan Collins, a Republican, and Angus King, an independent, said the funding is designed to help the hospitals serve more patients. It will help with workforce training, expanding telemedicine, buying supplies and providing other essential services, they said.

There have been more than 2,500 cases of the virus and 99 deaths from COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, in Maine.

This story has been corrected to say Angus King is an independent, not a Democrat.

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