- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 31, 2021

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - Maine is working to get more COVID-19 vaccines into small and independent pharmacies in the state.

Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Nirav Shah said nearly a third of the residents of the state have received at least their first dose of the vaccine. He said Tuesday that the state is working to “chart a course for independent pharmacies here in Maine” to participate more in the rollout via long-term care facilities and their own storefronts.

“For a lot of Maine communities, the independent pharmacies are the most trusted source in town,” Shah said. “We’re working to get them vaccines.”

Maine opened eligibility for the coronavirus vaccine to people age 50 and older in late March. The state is scheduled to open eligibility to everyone 16 and older on April 19.

In other pandemic news in Maine:



LOBSTER FESTIVAL

Maine’s celebration of all things lobster is a no-go for this summer.

The board of the Maine Lobster Festival voted unanimously Tuesday night to cancel the event for a second straight year because of the pandemic.

“Because we hold a festival that serves food in tents to tens of thousands of guests, there are not safe ways for us to do this and comply with CDC guidelines,” festival officials said on social media.

The event is normally held each August in Rockland. It features a number of attractions and serves up tens of thousands of pounds of lobster.

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THE NUMBERS

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday the state has been the site of 50,504 reported cases of the virus since the start of the pandemic. It has also been the site of 743 deaths.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Maine has risen over the past two weeks from 189.86 on March 15 to 211.43 on March 29. The seven-day rolling average of daily deaths in Maine has risen over the past two weeks from 0.29 on March 15 to 1 on March 29.

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PPP LOANS

President Joe Biden signed off on an extension of the Paycheck Protection Program that was championed by Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine.

Biden signed the PPP Extension Act of 2021 on Tuesday. Collins led the legislation along with Democratic Sens. Ben Cardin of Maryland and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire. The bill extends the program deadline to May 31.

Collins said the program has provided more than $3 billion in loans for Maine businesses.

“The PPP has been an enormous success, sustaining millions of small businesses and tens of millions of American jobs,” she said.

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