AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Maine's independent senator wants the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to provide more information about how it is monitoring variants of COVID-19.

Sen. Angus King and Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana said they sent a letter to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky last week asking for the information. They said the spread of variants throughout the U.S. is cause for concern and greater monitoring.

The senators said in a statement they want to know “answers from the CDC on steps being taken to track virus genomes for relevant mutations and assess any increased risk to the American public.”

Two coronavirus variants have been located in King's home state of Maine. One originated in the United Kingdom and the other in South Africa.

In other pandemic news in Maine:


The latest average positivity rate in Maine is 1.84%. State health departments are calculating positivity rate differently across the country, but for Maine the AP calculates the rate by dividing new cases by test specimens using data from The COVID Tracking Project.

The seven-day rolling average of the positivity rate in Maine has risen over the past two weeks from 1.73% on Feb. 21 to 1.84% on March 7.

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention has reported more than 46,000 positive cases of the virus and 723 deaths since the start of the pandemic.



Maine is joining a nine-state network that want to help job seekers transition to a post-pandemic economy.

The Maine Department of Labor said the National Governors Association and Cognizant U.S. Foundation, a nonprofit group, have announced the state is part of the Workforce Innovation Network. That means the state “will receive a grant to improve employment outcomes in response to the economic impacts of COVID-19, connecting job seekers to training, education, job opportunities and essential support services,” the labor department said.

The first round of grants will give the state up to $100,000 to support innovation in the state, the labor department said.