Good morning from Augusta. About 87,000 Mainers are still without power after the first major snowstorm of the season. Stay safe out there. Here’s your soundtrack.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “We have to focus our resources on individual cases where we can do the most public health good,” said Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, on how the state may reorient contact tracing resources amid high coronavirus case levels. “This will sadly entail making some very difficult choices.”
What we’re watching today
Maine’s business curfew will remain in effect at least until January as coronavirus cases rise. The state reported 425 new cases on Monday, a new record as the virus situation continues to worsen. Underscoring the national trouble, Maine is still third-lowest among states in per-capita cases over the past seven days, according to a New York Times tracker.
It has led to increased restrictions in Maine, though Gov. Janet Mills and many of her counterparts in other states have cited a lack of federal stimulus as a major reason that more aggressive measures have been avoided. The Democratic governor extended Maine’s 9 p.m. business curfew through the new year on Friday, citing continued high case levels.
States are experimenting with curfews absent much hard evidence that they work to contain the spread of the virus. Large states including California, New York, Ohio and Massachusetts have instituted curfews recently, though many states have set the cutoff later than Maine at 10 p.m.
A September study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said people who tested positive for the virus were nearly twice as likely to have dined out as those who tested negative. In Minnesota, nearly half of outbreaks in public settings from June to mid-November were traced to restaurants or bars. Maine restaurants have seen a smattering, including 22 cases linked to Pat’s Pizza in Portland in early November, and smaller outbreaks at others.
Time of the day is the sticking point here, however. Health experts have said while the curfews may have the effect of reducing crowds already diminished by other restrictions, they may also push people to more dangerous private gatherings. They are also being instituted alongside other measures that vary by state and make it difficult to determine what is working best.
The Maine politics top 3
— “Sunday River Brewing ordered to pay $34,000 fine and not serve alcohol until after Christmas,” Judy Harrison, Bangor Daily News: “The judge rejected the Savage brothers’ argument that the state had singled them out for inspections because of Rick Savage’s criticism of [Mills’] restrictions on business operations aimed at limiting the spread of the coronavirus.”
A Republican lawmaker wants to expedite a student health survey to measure effects from the pandemic. Rep. Justin Fecteau, R-Augusta, a teacher who has served on the education panel, wrote to Mills on Sunday asking her to intervene to ensure a student health survey that measures both physical and mental health is conducted on schedule in February.
In his letter, Fecteau said the state has discussed delaying the survey until September when more students may be physically in school to take it, but he considered it a “missed opportunity” to not gather earlier data on how the pandemic and associated restrictions have affected students.
The governor tested negative for the coronavirus on Saturday. Mills announced her test result after quarantining in the Blaine House since Tuesday, when a member of her security team began showing symptoms associated with the virus. The governor was with that person for a 10-minute car ride and both were masked. Mills credited mask-wearing for preventing an infection, saying she was “proof” that it works.
— “The sheriff fired him. Then the police chief fired him. Each time he kept his license as a cop,” Callie Ferguson, BDN: “Unlike in other states and professions, Maine law largely does not give the academy power to punish officers for misconduct that is not a potential criminal offense, even if their actions call into question their ability to fairly police the public. Human rights violations and ethical transgressions that damage the public’s faith in police — but are not crimes — do not rise to the academy’s purview.”
— “After her failed Senate bid, Sara Gideon still has $14 million in leftover campaign cash,” CQ-Roll Call: “Democratic campaign finance lawyer [Brett] Kappel and other political money experts said [former House Speaker Sara] Gideon has options for her extra cash, including transferring an unlimited amount to Democratic Party committees. She can also make contributions to federal and state candidates, within the legal limits. She has already sent money to the two Georgia Democrats running for Senate, Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, who are taking on incumbent Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, respectively, in a pair of Jan. 5 runoffs.” Here’s your soundtrack.
Today’s Daily Brief was written by Michael Shepherd and Jessica Piper. If you’re reading this on the BDN’s website or were forwarded it, you can sign up to have it delivered to your inbox every weekday morning here.
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