PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The University of Maine System will not require students and employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The system said in a statement that it will encourage use of the vaccine. University of Maine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy will also engage with the campus to talk about the importance of getting vaccinated, the university said.

Ferrini-Mundy said she's confident students and employees will choose to use the vaccine without a mandate.

“If we could offer it tomorrow, from what we’re hearing, there’s great interest and great commitment to the idea of participating," Ferrini-Mundy said.

In other news related to the pandemic in Maine:


The latest average positivity rate in Maine is 4.03%. 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 did not increase over the past two weeks, going from 6.48% on Jan. 17 to 4.03% on Jan. 31.

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported Monday that more than 39,000 cases of the virus and 595 deaths since the start of the pandemic.



Northern Light Health said a planned COVID-19 vaccination site at Cross Insurance Center in Bangor is scheduled to be open on Tuesday despite an expected storm.

The health network said in a statement that residents who are unable to attend an appointment are asked to call 207-204-8551.

"If you have pre-registered and have an appointment, and can safely get to Cross Insurance Center, we will be there to vaccinate you at your scheduled time," the statement said.



State officials have added another county to Maine's list of counties where schools face a moderate risk of transmission of the coronavirus.

Maine uses a color-coded system to identify the level of risk at schools. The Maine Department of Education said Franklin County has been added to the list of counties in the “yellow," or moderate, category.

Other counties in the yellow category include Androscoggin, Oxford and York. Cumberland County has been moved from the yellow category to the green, or lowest risk, category. All other counties in the state remain in green.

The state has called on schools in the yellow designation to consider additional safety precautions, such as limiting numbers of people in school buildings and suspending extracurricular activities.