- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 18, 2020

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - Maine’s minor league hockey team is going to skip the upcoming season along with all the other franchises in its division.

The Maine Mariners and the other five members of the ECHL North Division said Wednesday they are suspending the 2020-21 season and planning to return in 2021-22. The Mariners play in Portland, the largest city in a state in which ice hockey is a longstanding winter tradition.

“With the uncertainties surrounding COVID-19, the increasing rates in our region, and after consulting with local officials, we did not see a clear path toward hosting fans at Mariners games,” said Danny Briere, vice president of hockey operations for the Maine Mariners. “We want to thank our fans for their passion and loyalty as we continue to navigate returning to the ice.”

The other teams in the division are the Adirondack Thunder, Brampton Beast, Newfoundland Growlers, Reading Royals and Worcester Railers.

In other pandemic-related developments:



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HOSPITAL SAFETY

Maine’s largest hospital is putting in place new visitation restrictions in response to a surge in COVID-19 in the state.

The number of visitors and the length of visitation hours were being reduced effective Wednesday in most parts of Maine Medical Center. But visitation is not changing for the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital, pediatrics or obstetrics, officials said.

“We understand that support from families is an important piece of healing for our patients,” said MMC President Jeff Sanders. “Our goal is to balance that need for family connection with the importance of reducing density in the hospital to keep all of our patients and care team members safe.”

The hospital continues to screen all health care providers, patients and visitors for COVID-19, to require universal masking and to encourage social distancing and hand-washing.

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THE NUMBERS

The Maine Center for Disease Control reported four deaths and more than 150 additional infections on Wednesday.

It’s the second time in little more than a week that four deaths have been recorded in a single day. The seven-day average for daily cases is now above 190, the highest to date.

In all, there have been more than 9,500 virus cases and 170 deaths since the pandemic began, the Maine CDC said.

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HOLIDAY PRECAUTIONS

Maine Democratic Gov. Janet Mills said Wednesday that residents of the state should be judicious about holiday gatherings and other trips because cases of coronavirus are rising in the state. She said Maine families should avoid large in-person holiday celebrations unless they are completely necessary.

“I’m very concerned about this alarming increase especially as we enter the holiday season,” Mills said. “I don’t want COVID-19 to be the uninvited guest in our home.”

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CHRISTMAS PRELUDE

One of southern Maine’s holiday events will be scaled back this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The “Christmas Prelude” event often draws visitors from around the country to Kennebunkport for Yuletide merriment. Organizers said in a statement the event’s 39th year has been “reimagined” with an eye toward safety during the coronavirus pandemic.

This year’s Prelude will focus on prerecorded virtual programming, said Kennebunkport Business Association President Paul Humphrey.

That includes all of the Prelude’s beloved events, such as the Dock Square and Cape Porpoise tree lightings, caroling at the monastery and Santa Claus arriving by lobster boat, organizers said.

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