- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 24, 2020

GUILFORD, Maine (AP) - A Maine medical supplies manufacturer has been awarded more than $11 million from the federal government to produce millions of additional testing swabs.

Puritan Medical Products of Guilford received the money through the federal Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, said Republican Sen. Susan Collins on Monday. The company will increase its production of swabs by three million per month, Collins said.

Puritan has played a major role in the U.S.’s efforts to conduct enough testing to help corral the coronavirus pandemic. The White House announced in June that the federal government was providing more than $75 million for Puritan to double its production to 40 million swabs per month.

The company’s total production of flock tip swabs and foam swabs is at least 90 million per month now, Collins said.

“Increased testing is crucial to tracking and slowing the spread of COVID-19 and keeping our communities safe,” she said.



In other pandemic news in Maine:

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RATE INCREASES

The latest average positivity rate in Maine is 2.06%. State health departments are calculating positivity rate differently across the country, but for Maine the AP calculates the rate by dividing new cases by test specimens using data from The COVID Tracking Project.

The 7-day rolling average of the positivity rate in Maine has risen over the past two weeks from 2.02% on Nov. 9 to 2.06% on Nov. 23.

State health authorities have reported 10,799 positive cases of the virus since the start of the pandemic. They have also reported 189 deaths.

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STATE OF EMERGENCY EXTENDED

Democratic Gov. Janet Mills on Tuesday extended Maine’s “State of Civil Emergency” through Dec. 23. The declaration allows Maine to “deploy all available tools to respond to and contain COVID-19,” the governor’s office said.

Mills asked residents to continue social distancing, wear masks and get a flu shot.

“I know we are growing tired. This is not forever, but we have to do these things in order to get our grip on this virus as we make progress toward a vaccine,” she said.

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REVENUE IMPROVES

Maine’s financial picture has improved somewhat since July projections that forecast a significant hit caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services said.

The state Revenue Forecasting Committee has forecast that revenues will come in approximately $489 million higher for the general fund and $9.1 million higher for the highway fund for the 2022-23 fiscal year biennium, the department said. Those are increases of 6% and 1.3% over the committee’s July forecast, the department said.

The department cautioned that the new revenue targets are still “considerably below the RFC’s pre-pandemic forecast and reflect the complexity of economic and revenue forecasting in this unprecedented recession.”

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