Protesters follow a float carrying Gov. Janet Mills, in background at left, during the pandemic-delayed State of Maine Bicentennial Parade, Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021, in Lewiston, Maine. The parade was held against a backdrop of a surge in coronavirus infections caused by the delta variant and an ongoing debate over rules put in place by the Mills administration to protect residents. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

Good morning from Augusta. The Maine Ethics Commission meets at 10 a.m. on Monday and will discuss a potential $2,500 fine against an anti-corridor political committee. 

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Maine’s cooler climate offers a benefit that you won’t find in warmer locales — the lake freezes over in winter, facilitating the moving of building supplies,” states a listing for Morrow Island, one of five islands in Maine you can buy for less than a million dollars. We’re all wishing for some of that cooler weather now. Here’s your soundtrack.

What we’re watching today

COVID-19 vaccinations have begun to tick up again in recent weeks despite loud opposition to a mandate for health care workers. The State of Maine Bicentennial Parade in Lewiston and Auburn was an event of our times. Delayed for a year by the COVID-19 pandemic, it featured Gov. Janet Mills as the grand marshal on Saturday. That made it a target for opponents of the Democratic governor’s new vaccine mandate for health care workers, who shouted down Mills and gathered around her float.

While home health agencies and paramedics are worrying about effects on staffing from the mandate, it’s unclear what the overall effect will be. The vaccine is also largely winning out in Maine, where 65 percent of people are fully vaccinated for the fourth-highest rate among states, according to a Bloomberg News tracker. But the rise of cases and hospitalizations due to the more contagious delta variant is shining light on vaccine programs that stalled this summer.

That is turning around a bit in Maine, where the number of first doses administered climbed to 1,409 as of Sunday, nearly double the rate compared with a month earlier, according to federal data. But there are still more than 230,000 eligible Mainers aged 12 and older who have not gotten a single dose, along with roughly 160,000 more children ineligible for vaccines.

At the Skowhegan State Fair in Somerset County, Maine’s least-vaccinated county, one of the vaccine clinics offered there last week by the local hospital saw no takers. But it gave 12 shots in just two hours on Friday, including to a man with a liver condition making him vulnerable to the virus and a woman who drove from Kennebec County to get a shot she was skeptical of because she thought it would soon be mandated for people who work with children.

Combine that with a likely move from the Food and Drug Administration on Monday to authorize the dominant Pfizer two-shot vaccine for full use. The practical effects of such a change are relatively limited, although it could make it more politically palatable for some employers or institutions to mandate that vaccine or buoy some skeptical people as each shot becomes increasingly important.

The Maine politics top 3

— “Anti-Defamation League calls on Maine lawmaker to apologize after comparing Mills to Nazi doctor,” Steve Mistler, Maine Public: “So we have Josef Mengele and Joseph Goebbels being reincarnated here in the state of Maine. I’ll let you figure out who is in what role but I’ll just say probably the Mengele … You probably have two by the same last name, of one is the governor. The other one is also a Mills, just to connect the dots,” [said Rep. Heidi Sampson, R-Alfred.]

— “What we know about masking policies for midcoast Maine schools for the upcoming school year,” Abigail Curtis and Lauren Abbate, Bangor Daily News: “As the coronavirus pandemic grinds through its 18th month, school districts around the state are grappling with tough decisions around mask wearing. In the midcoast region a number of school districts ― including those based in Rockland, Thorndike and Northport  ―  have already approved plans requiring students and staff to wear masks regardless of vaccination status. But some school boards, including the Belfast-based Regional School Unit 71, have not yet voted on the matter.”

Check our comprehensive list of school mask policies here. The BDN has pulled reporting on mask requirements by school together on this comprehensive list. If your school is missing, please email us at news@bangordailynews.com.

— “Abbott Labs disputes report that it destroyed millions of Maine-made rapid COVID tests,” Lori Valigra, BDN: “Abbott disputed the newspaper’s account in a statement late Friday, saying it has not destroyed any finished BinaxNOW product or usable test components needed by the market that could have been donated. It said card components shown by the Times were disposed of because they were at their seven-month shelf life.”

Progressive group targets Golden from the left on infrastructure

A national progressive group is the latest to go on air in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District as part of a six-figure ad campaign targeting nine Democrats. Rep. Jared Golden, is among the Democratic House members calling on party leaders to vote on the roughly $1 trillion Senate infrastructure bill without waiting for a larger budget resolution that is expected to pass along partisan lines later this fall, saying they won’t vote for the former until the latter has passed. The move has irked progressives, who see the infrastructure bill as insufficient.

Golden and the other moderate representatives have given little indication they will back down, writing in a Washington Post op-ed Sunday evening that they are “firmly opposed to holding the president’s infrastructure legislation hostage to reconciliation, risking its passage and the bipartisan support behind it.”

The ads from Justice Democrats, a national progresive group, are the latest in a flow of money targeting Maine’s 2nd District. Republican groups have already poured in more than $1 million in anticipation of a tight race for Golden next year in a district that also voted for former President Donald Trump twice.

Today’s Daily Brief was written by Caitlin Andrews, Jessica Piper and Michael Shepherd. 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.

To reach us, do not reply directly to this newsletter, but contact the political team at mshepherd@bangordailynews.com, candrews@bangordailynews.com or jpiper@bangordailynews.com.

Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after three years as a reporter at the Kennebec Journal. A Hallowell native who now lives in Augusta, he graduated from the University of Maine in...