In this March 17, 2021, file photo, Tina Billings, an animal care worker at Responsible Pet Care in South Paris, cuddles with one of the cats in the "catio." Credit: Andree Kehn / Sun Journal via AP

Today is Friday. Temperatures will be in the mid-40s and the high 50s from north to south, with mostly cloudy skies in the north and mostly sunny skies in the south. Here’s what we’re talking about in Maine today.

The latest on the coronavirus in Maine

Twelve more Mainers have died and another 284 COVID-19 cases were reported across the state, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The statewide death toll now stands at 2,179. Check out our tracker for more information.

A recent study showed that a second booster shot does little to protect people from the highly contagious omicron variant, reducing the likelihood of getting a COVID infection by just 30 percent.

The pandemic slashed Maine bus and train ridership. It has not recovered.

Ridership on buses and trains in Maine remains between 30 percent and 50 percent lower than before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bangor’s 6 a.m. St. Patrick’s Day party just ‘feels right’ after 2 pandemic years

When the clock struck 6 a.m., the doors opened and green-clad people flooded in, filling each booth and clamoring to order their Guinness and whiskey.

ALSO: This Maine man and his horse will help lead Boston St. Patrick’s Day parade

Susan Collins and Angus King going to Europe to review Ukraine war fallout

A group of 10 senators will speak with military leaders, return with ideas on how to support Ukraine further and witness firsthand the impact of the war.

PLUS: Russian businesses in US face backlash from war in Ukraine

How this Old Town school handled a request to ban a book on sexual assault

“Every banned book is not for every child, but every banned book might save one child,” Leonard Middle School Principal Gert Nesin said.

After years in limbo, Belfast fish farm now owns the land it needs to begin building

Nordic Aquafarms could start construction on its $500 million land-based salmon farm in eight or nine months.

Weak lobstering gear recalled as new regulations approach

That takes away one of the handful of gear options at lobstermen’s disposal to meet new federal rules that go into effect May 1.

Those mysterious boxes along your walking trails probably aren’t game cameras

It’s one of a handful of such devices deployed to give the organization a better idea of how many humans are using Portland’s trail system.

$100M for Mainers harmed by ‘forever chemicals’ passes key legislative hurdle

The pool of money is meant to help commercial farms that have been hurt by the discovery of “forever chemicals” in land or products.

Escaped chickens ride shotgun through Dunkin’ drive-thru after capture by animal control officer

Jessica Jackson has seen a lot in nearly two decades as an animal control officer. But chickens riding shotgun in her cruiser was a first.

Maine’s Cooper Flagg is 1 of 48 athletes invited to USA Basketball minicamp

Cooper Flagg led Nokomis to a 21-1 record and the first Class A boys basketball championship in school history.

A look inside the Southern Aroostook girls basketball dynasty

The win checked off the one accomplishment that had eluded Warriors coach Cliff Urquhart in recent years — an undefeated season.

Emergency resources are just an app away despite spotty reception in Piscataquis County

The Piscataquis County EMA app can provide critical details about issues like road closures, flooding and local warming or cooling centers.

In other Maine news …

Boston College overcomes 1st-quarter deficit to oust UMaine from WNIT

Bangor children’s museum gets $500K to help teachers hook young kids on science

Maine heavyweight stages comeback after losing nationally televised fight

Feds investigating theft of guns from Fort Kent firearms dealer

Watered-down affordable housing overhaul advances in Maine Legislature

1 seriously injured after crashing into logging truck in Etna

Old Town-area district taps Veazie school leader as next superintendent

The closed Newburgh Elementary School will become town property

UMaine baseball coach expects team to contend for conference title

Busiest stretch of I-295 will be temporarily shut down in April

Maine conglomerate purchases 50-year-old Martin’s Motel in Madawaska

Building supply firm must replace trees illegally cut on Bar Harbor property

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.