AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — The U.S. Department of Education is awarding more than $183 million to Maine's K-12 schools as part of the latest federal coronavirus relief package.

The funding is part of $81.9 billion for education the latest stimulus package approved by Congress.

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos urged educators this week to use the money to reopen schools, to measure and address learning loss, and to take other actions to mitigate the impact of COVID-19. She said there's no reason so many schools remain closed and students “locked out.”

Schools have longer deadlines to spend the money, with the new funds available through Sept. 30, 2023.

In other pandemic news in Maine:



The latest average positivity rate in Maine is 7.4%. 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 6.31% on Dec. 23 to 7.4% on Jan. 6.

Public health authorities in Maine have reported more than 27,000 cases and 385 deaths since the start of the pandemic.



A Maine manufacturer of medical supplies that have proved critical during the coronavirus pandemic won a Company of the Year award from a business magazine.

Inc. magazine bestowed the award on Puritan Medical Products of Guilford. The company has played a key role in diagnostics during the pandemic because it manufactures nasal swabs.

Inc. wrote that Puritan “will have increased its production capacity more than 30-fold within a year.” The company recruited hundreds of employees to meet manufacturing demand, the Maine Department of Labor said Wednesday. It also opened a second facility in Pittsfield.

Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, said Puritan “embodies the long and proud tradition of Maine businesses stepping up during tumultuous times to meet the needs of our state.”