PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Students at the University of Maine are returning to campus for the first time since being sent home in March.
Monday marked the start of move-in week in Orono just days after four students tested positive for the coronavirus.
At the University of Maine, two of the students are roommates and live off campus, and one student lives in a fraternity house. All three are showing mild symptoms and are quarantining. Also, a returning, out-of-state University of Maine Law student was quarantining after testing positive, officials said Monday.
“Our screening strategy is working as intended, identifying and isolating a case of COVID-19 that might otherwise have gone undetected and possibly spread infection on our campus and in our classrooms,” said UMaine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy.
The university system is testing all students who are returning from out of state and all students who are living in campus residence halls.
In other news related to the pandemic in Maine:
At least four firefighters and emergency medical technicians have tested positive for the coronavirus and others are in quarantine in York County, the Maine Center for Disease Control said Monday.
Three of the cases are associated with the Sanford Fire Department, and testing also was underway at fire departments in Saco and Buxton because of potential exposure to people who were infected, the Maine CDC said.
“The coronavirus outbreak at the Sanford Fire Department underscores how critical it is to ensure that our first responders are given top priority in receiving direct access to COVID-19 testing and that they receive their results in a timely fashion,” said Michael Crouse, president of Professional Fire Fighters of Maine.
Twenty-one additional people have tested positive for the coronavirus, the Maine CDC said Monday. The state has had more than 4,300 reported cases of the virus. It has also been the site of 131 deaths. No new deaths were reported on Monday.
The coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.
Maine's Republican senator has cosponsored legislation to authorize $2 billion to support distance learning and telehealth amid the pandemic.
Sen. Susan Collins is working with Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas on the proposal. Collins said better access to broadband is critical for rural and low-income residents to be able to access education and healthcare.
The proposal is about “helping to close the digital divide for rural and low-income residents in Maine and throughout the country,” Collins said.
Maine Department of Labor officials said Monday the State Extended Benefit program will be available for residents who have exhausted their 13 weeks of federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation by the end of this week. The benefit program provides an additional 13 weeks of benefits.
The labor department said residents who have exhausted their benefits will not need to take any additional action.