(Augusta) Hancock and Washington Counties have yet to report any cases of coronavirus while the state saw an increase of 13 cases since Wednesday. Maine CDC director Dr Nirav Shah said Thursday that Maine has 155 cases among 11 counties. Dr Shah reports a total of 16 healthcare workers have tested positive for COVID-19.
(Maine) Starting Saturday, the Maine State Ferry Service is cutting back its schedule. The Maine Department of Transportation tells Star 97.7 the reductions come in response to decreases in ridership as well as efforts to control the Coronavirus. Changes are posted on the Maine DOT website.
(Ellsworth) Healthcare workers have exhausting schedules – even more-so these days with the Coronavirus. A Maine-based coffee chain is pitching in to help by offering free cups of coffee to those on the front lines. Aroma Joe’s is giving away 16 ounce cups of iced or hot coffee to those employed in the healthcare field. The promotion began March 16th and continues at least through the end of the month. Aroma Joe’s says it’s already donated more than nine thousand cups since the promotion began less than two weeks ago.
Lobster Industry Hit
(Augusta) The Maine fishing industry has been particularly hard hit by the Coronavirus pandemic. The Ellsworth American reports Governor Mills has requested immediate financial assistance from the White House. Mills noted the limited opportunities for lobster and other fishing industries, as there are no markets for the product already in inventory. The elver fishing season, scheduled to open last Sunday is now set to open at 8 AM on March 30th, according to the Department of Marine Resources. The Northern Gulf of Maine Scallop fishery, slated to open April 1st, has seen price reductions of up to 50 percent. Whole Oceans, the company building a facility to raise Atlantic salmon on the site of the former Verso Mill in Bucksport, said that while timing is uncertain, it still plans to break ground for its new facility this summer.
Run on Guns
(Ellsworth) One industry that seems to be thriving as a result of the Covid-19 crisis is the sale of guns and ammunition. The Ellsworth American reports local gun stores have seen a surge in first-time buyers. A fear of law and order breaking down in the face of the pandemic seems to be driving the demand. Nationwide, gun shops are reporting backups of 2 to 3 weeks. New gun owners are not required to take any courses in the state of Maine, but safety courses are available throughout the state.
(National) As the federal government ponders sending checks to citizens to help ease economic distress during the Covid-19 crisis, the Federal Trade Commission is warning of potential scams. The FTC reminds people the government will never ask you to pay anything up front to get the money if and when it is sent. They also will never call to ask for your Social Security number, bank account or credit card number. The reports of checks aren’t yet a reality, so anyone who tells you they can get you the money now is a scammer.
The Ellsworth Chamber of Commerce has postponed its annual meeting, but Chamber Executive Director Gretchen Wilson tells Star 97-7 they’re looking forward to the event still happening, even if it’s postponed for now. The event was originally scheduled for May 21st.
Star 97-7 is getting ready to do something the station has never done before – stop the music! But only for an hour. Co-owner/General Manager and afternoon host Mark Osborne reports that on Tuesday, March 31st, the station will present an hour from, 12:30 to 1:30, dedicated to answering your questions about the Covid-19 Pandemic. Two local physicians, along with morning host Paul Dupuis will be on hand to answer YOUR questions. Send in your questions on FB or anonymously by emailing paul at star 9 7 7 dot com.
Colby College Cases
(Waterville) Colby College officials report five community members have tested positive for the Coronavirus. Officials posted the announcement on the school’s website. Administrators say those testing positive provided a list of others with whom they had been in contact and that all those involved have been notified. Colby students begin their remote courses on Monday. The campus remains closed to most activities.
(Augusta) Maine’s unemployment numbers jumped dramatically last week. The Maine Department of Labor Thursday released figures for the week of March 15-21, reporting 21,459 initial claims. That compares to just 634 initial claims filed the previous week. Among industries most affected were food services, healthcare and social assistance, manufacturing, and retail trade. If you need to apply for benefits, you can do so online at Maine dot go slash unemployment or by phone at 1-800-593-7660.
(Hermon) Northern Light Hospital received a welcome and much-coveted gift this week from Hermon Family Dental. Since most dentist offices are closed except for emergencies, Dr. Benjamin Phillips reached out to offer 23 thousand gloves, 15 hundred masks, and 16 hundred medical grade disinfecting wipes to the hospital. Northern Light was able to purchase the supplies at cost, a welcome and lifesaving present in this time of scarce PPE’s. The office tells Star 97-7 News they kept a small supply to treat emergencies if needed in the coming weeks.
(Bar Harbor) Like many other businesses, Sherman’s Books in Bar Harbor closed its doors this week in response to Governor Mills’ directive to close all non-essential businesses temporarily. The store hopes to reopen in late spring, but announced on its Facebook page the Camden location will not reopen. A spokesperson said they will be contacting all customers that have placed special orders and will do their best to fill those orders. If you have questions, you can still reach out via phone or email.
Itty Bitty Closure
(Hancock) The Itty Bitty Diner in Hancock has decided to close its doors temporarily. Like many other restaurants, the diner had been serving take out only, due to recent restrictions from the Governor’s office. Itty Bitty Diner posted on its Facebook page that they have closed until further notice. The dine-in restaurant had become a favorite of local diners, who no doubt look forward to Itty Bitty’s reopening.
Elver Season Update
(Augusta) The Maine Department of Marine Resources will open will open the elver season at 8 a.m. March 30. The season was scheduled to begin last Sunday, but was delayed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. After ensuring protocols are in place to protect fishermen, dealers and communities, the industry has been given the green light to begin on Monday. Under authority established by Governor Janet Mills’ March 15 Civil Emergency Proclamation, licensed elver harvesters may fish for and sell the quota of another licensed harvester. Dealers have also agreed to limit transactions significantly by only buying 1 pound or more of elvers.
Farmington Companies Cleared
(Farmington) The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cleared two of the companies involved in a Farmington propane explosion last year. WABI-TV reports OSHA closed its investigations into C.N.Brown and Cornerstone Plumbing and Heating with no violation citations. Life Enrichment Advancing People, or LEAP, the building where the explosion occurred, and Techno Metal Post Maine LLC were fined for failing to inspect the job site, materials and equipment. The September 16th explosion killed Fire Captain Michael Bell, and injured six firefighters and LEAP maintenance manager Larry Lord. Lord is credited with saving lives by clearing the building before the explosion occurred.
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