PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The Maine Center for Disease Control reported 13 new COVID-19 infections on Monday — the lowest total since late September — as the number of cases continue to decline in the state. The governor, meanwhile, unveiled a $1,500 cash incentive to get people working this summer.
The 24-hour tally represented the smallest daily increase in infections since Sept. 27, 2020, when 12 cases were reported statewide, officials said.
The number of infections reported on Monday is typically lower because fewer tests are conducted on weekends. A week earlier, the state reported 30 infections on a Monday.
Nonetheless, the overall trend has been downward for weeks in Maine.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Maine has dipped over the past two weeks, going from 109 per day on May 29 to 51 new cases per day on June 12. The AP is using data collected by Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering to measure outbreak caseloads and deaths across the United States.
No new deaths were reported on Monday, leaving the statewide death toll at 845, according to the Maine CDC.
Meanwhile, Democratic Gov. Janet Mills announced she'll use cold, hard cash to get people to take jobs this summer, helping struggling hospitality businesses that can't find enough workers.
The “Back to Work” program, which begins Tuesday, aims to provide a one-time, $1,500 payment to workers for starting a new job by the end of June, or $1,000 for starting a job through the end of July.
“With this new program, we are providing another tool to accelerate people’s transition back into the workforce, protecting their health and long-term financial stability,” the governor said.
As many as 7,500 Mainers could be reached through the first-come, first-serve program that utilizes $10 million in federal funding.
"The governor’s initiative is the right strategy at the right time to help get Maine people back to work, businesses back in full operation, and Maine’s economy fully back on track," said Dana Connors, president and CEO of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce.
In other pandemic news in Maine:
Maine's oldest and largest public library system is reopening to the public.
The Portland Public Library will open on June 22 with two levels of the building operating with reduced hours. Hours will then expand in the first week of July, the library system said.
The Peaks Island brand of the system is scheduled to open on Tuesday. Two other branches, the Burbank and Riverton branches, are expected to announce opening dates soon, the system said.
The system said everyone entering the library will be required to wear a mask.
“We serve people from every age, demographic, and background, including young children, medically vulnerable individuals, and others who are not yet vaccinated. The mask requirement helps us protect those who may still be at risk from COVID-19,” said Sarah Campbell, the library executive director.
The library system said it's also limiting visits to 30 minutes. It's discontinuing its curbside to-go services as branches reopen.