Big Spencer Mountain is silhouetted against the late evening sky near Kokadjo during a bear hunting trip Monday with Northern Pride Lodge. Credit: Pete Warner / BDN

Today is Friday. Temperatures will be in the high 60s to low 70s, with partly sunny skies throughout the state. Here’s what we’re talking about in Maine today.

The latest on the coronavirus

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported 624 new cases of the coronavirus and 3 new deaths on Thursday. The death toll stands at 937.

As the state sees the highest rise in new COVID-19 cases in months, Penobscot County has become a coronavirus hotspot, reporting 159 cases on Thursday.

After students went back to school this week, Bangor High School and the Asa C. Adams school in Orono reported their first COVID cases of the year.

Janet Mills gives health care workers another month to get vaccinated against COVID-19

While workers are still required to be vaccinated by Oct. 1, the state will not begin enforcing the rule until Oct. 29, allowing employers to keep unvaccinated workers on the job and delaying state enforcement actions that could affect facilities’ licensing.

Aroostook families and advocates say more resources are needed to prevent overdose deaths

Maine is on track to have its deadliest year of the opioid epidemic in 2021 — an average of 51 people are dying every month from overdoses. Since January, 16 people have died of an overdose in Aroostook County, just one less person than in the entire 2020 calendar year.

A Maine priest once shot a news photographer out of the sky with a rifle

While attempting to get a novel angle, a daredevil newsreel cameraman lashed himself beneath a bouquet of hydrogen-filled balloons 84 years ago this month.

Then he floated away into the skies above Old Orchard Beach.

It took guts to get up there but, when his tether failed, it took a priest with mad marksmanship skills to get him back down.

Maine woman’s photos honor pets at the end of their lives

Lauren Smith Kennedy’s portraits of gray-muzzled dogs and dignified-but-rickety old cats — and the humans who love them — are suffused with sublime emotion.

Ellsworth woman sues school board over alleged ‘secret meeting’ and speech violations

Gwendolyn Clark also believes the school board approved teaching critical race theory in local schools.

Unvaccinated students driving early-season sports cancellations in Maine

Five of the 37 varsity football games scheduled this week have been canceled as positive COVID-19 tests and related contact tracing have forced team members into a quarantine period. The emergence of the delta variant of the virus has caused a spike in Maine cases, with Thursday’s daily statewide count surging to 624.

Bangor’s new skate park opens at Hayford Park after 10-year effort 

The park — an expansive concrete rectangle with built-in features including ramps, grind rails, a quarter pipe and other elevations — is located between Mansfield Stadium and 13th Street, and is a massive improvement over the old skate park off Union Street — which was meant to be temporary when it was installed in 2011.

License for CMP transmission project to go up for public hearing

State regulators are calling a public hearing on whether they should pull the license they issued for Central Maine Power’s transmission line through western Maine.

Susan Collins calls Texas abortion law ‘extreme’ under more scrutiny for Kavanaugh vote

She criticized the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to leave it in place amid outcry from abortion-rights activists who decried the senator’s 2018 vote to confirm a conservative justice.

Last US plane to depart Afghanistan stopped at Bangor airport Wednesday night

The plane, a C-17 based out of Charleston Air Force Base in Charleston, South Carolina, departed Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul on Monday night, and made the long flight back to the U.S. over the course of several days.

In other Maine news:

2 separate crashes in Orient happen within minutes of each other

Whoopie Pie Festival canceled as hospital warns of Piscataquis’ worsening COVID situation

Maine’s sharp rise in personal income expected to taper off as federal relief ends

Piscataquis County lodge’s expertise helps hunter bag a bear on the 1st day of the season

More than 98 percent of UNE students and faculty are fully vaccinated

In Aroostook County, former cross-country powerhouses are seeing their rosters shrink

Leela Stockley

Leela Stockley is an alumna of the University of Maine. She was raised in northern Maine, and loves her cat Wesley, her puppy Percy and staying active in the Maine outdoors.