- Associated Press - Monday, February 8, 2021

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - Eviction filings have decreased since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, but pressure is building as landlords claim that their tenants are falling further behind on payments, according to the Maine Affordable Housing Coalition.

The coalition, which compiled information from more than 2,000 eviction filings, said Monday that renters and landlords are still waiting for the federal government to complete rules for rent relief approved by Congress in late December.

“No one should lose their home in the middle of a public health emergency,” said Greg Payne, Director of the Maine Affordable Housing Coalition. “The efficient deployment of federal rent relief dollars must happen immediately, to protect both vulnerable renters and the landlords who have their own bills to pay.”

The coalition will be working with state lawmakers to pass legislation that would prevent many evictions through changes to the eviction process and better legal representation for renters in eviction courts.

In other pandemic news in Maine:



THE NUMBERS

The positivity rate in the state continued a downward trend that began in the weeks after the winter holidays.

The latest average positivity rate in Maine is 3.07%. 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 seven-day rolling average of the positivity rate in Maine did not increase over the past two weeks, going from 4.36% on Jan. 24 to 3.07% on Feb. 7.

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported there have been more than 41,000 positive cases of the virus since the start of the pandemic. The agency has also reported 636 deaths from the virus.

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VACCINATION SITE

City and state officials are working with MaineGeneral Health to iron out the details of potentially using Augusta Civic Center as a mass vaccination site.

The civic center is typically used to host high-attendance events such as agricultural trade shows. More recently, it was used to swear state lawmakers into office.

The main portion of the building has more than 30,000 square feet, making it an easier place to accommodate social distancing requirements than most venues in central Maine.

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TO-GO DRINKS

A state senator wants to give a boost to restaurants that are struggling during the pandemic by continuing to allow them to sell to-go alcohol along with their to-go meals for a year.

The bill introduced by Sen. Louis Luchini, D-Ellsworth, in the Committee on Veterans and Legal Affairs on Monday would extend provisions put in place to help restaurants and bars.

“With the COVID-19 pandemic ongoing and recovery likely to take a while, it only makes sense to keep this provision,” he said.

The bill would extend to-go alcohol sales, as long as they accompany a food order, through April 15, 2022.

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