Pedestrians stroll across the Armistice footbridge in Belfast on Thursday afternoon. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

Today is Friday. Temperatures will be in the high-20s to mid-30s with sunny skies in the south and snow showers in the north. Here’s what we’re talking about in Maine today.

Here’s the latest about the coronavirus in Maine

Six more Mainers died and another 675 coronavirus cases were reported across the state on Thursday, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The death toll now stands at 536. Check out our COVID-19 Tracker for more information.

The recently closed Scarborough Downs harness racing track will be the site of Maine’s first large-scale coronavirus vaccination clinic, MaineHealth announced Thursday.

Maine COVID-19 cases and deaths are expected to increase into February

A masked-up man walks a waterfront path in Portland on Thursday Jan 14, 2021. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

An often-cited predictive model suggests the coronavirus pandemic in Maine may continue to worsen during a national decline as the state manages a vaccine rollout that has been slower nationally than officials hoped and girds for a more contagious strain of the virus.

Student safety top priority for Bangor parents frustrated by abrupt switch to remote learning

Nella Mihan, a fifth grader at Fairmount School, and her brother Eric, a second grader at Vine Street School, work on assignments at home after Bangor’s public schools shut down for in-person instruction on Tuesday morning after the department’s bus contractor, Cyr Bus Line, reported cases of COVID-19 that led to a shortage of available drivers. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

Some Bangor parents were frustrated by the abrupt shift to remote instruction this week after the school department’s bus contractor recorded up to seven COVID-19 cases, but they said the school department ultimately made the right call for students’ safety.

New coffee shop becomes a Belfast fixture, even though no one has stepped inside

Mia Bertelli, who works at Downshift Coffee in Belfast, hands a cappuccino out the window to a customer on Thursday. Because of the pandemic, no customer has set foot in Downshift Coffee since it opened last spring. But the coffee shop has still become a regular stop of many in the city as owner Nathaniel Baer has been able to be creative with his business. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

Because of the pandemic, no customer has set foot in Downshift Coffee, 39 Main St., since it opened last spring. Still, through creativity and resilience, Nathaniel Baer, 46, made it work. 

Top Maine lawmakers debate tightening face-covering rules after clerk quits over health fears

Members of the Maine House take their oath of office at the Augusta Civic Center in this December file photo. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, said lawmakers should “at minimum” be required to cover their faces while in legislative space, saying a committee clerk resigned over concerns that lawmakers not regularly wearing standard masks would work in the committee room.

Affordable housing project needs $200,000 from Bangor

The Bangor City Council is considering a request from Penquis for $200,000 to help the nonprofit build affordable housing on Milford Street Extension, the short road that runs from Essex Street to the Mary Snow School. Credit: Charles Eichacker / BDN

The project, initially announced in February 2020, will create 39 new units of affordable multi-family housing on about 5 acres of private land on Milford Street Extension, the short road that runs from Essex Street to the Mary Snow School.

Opening ‘yellow’ counties to sports is welcome news for Maine’s struggling high school athletes

This scene from Jan. 4, which shows Bangor High girls basketball coach Jay Kemble addressing his team, will become much more common around the state this week as schools in Maine’s “yellow” counties are allowed to conduct sports activities. Credit: Natalie Williams / BDN

It also should elicit a huge sigh of relief from student-athletes around the state who are fearful that they may be the next to lose their chance to play for their high school teams.

Many readers disagree, but experts have a verdict on our mystery beast

A “mystery beast” walks in front of a trail camera in a small Penobscot County town. What do you see? Fisher? Baby porcupine? Something else? Credit: Courtesy of Norman Tremblay

After a minor disagreement among state wildlife biologists and a number of creative responses from readers, we’re ready to (almost) authoritatively identify the Lowell mystery beast, which we introduced you to earlier this week.

Submit your nominations for Maine’s Best Boys Basketball Team of All Time

Credit: Stock photo / Pexels

What’s the most formidable team you’ve ever seen? It doesn’t matter the era or the size of the school. If you saw a team play that sticks out in your mind, include it in your list.

Gather ideas for winter outdoor activities at this upcoming BDN virtual event

Julie Quinn, 40, of Bangor, crosses Branch Lake while participating in the Bangor YMCA Wilderness Center Snowshoe Race on Feb. 28 at Camp Jordan in Ellsworth. Credit: Aislinn Sarnacki / BDN

Irritability, restlessness and isolation from feeling trapped indoors — also known as Cabin Fever — has always been an issue during the winter in Maine. And for many people, including myself, the COVID-19 pandemic has only amplified these uncomfortable feelings. But there is something that can help, and it’s right outside your front door.

In other Maine news …

Skater rescued after plunging through ice on Oxford County lake

A third of Maine student loan borrowers could have debt eliminated under Biden plan

Opponents of $1B power line have signatures for referendum

Warm weather this January has shattered records in Maine

Maine delegation splits as Congress grants waiver for Biden’s Pentagon pick

Thousands of vaccine doses set aside by Maine CDC may have gotten too cold, not too hot