No End Date Slotted For Maine Mask Rules Despite Nh Changes

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — The only state that borders Maine is changing mask-wearing rules, but the rules in Maine are staying the same.

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, a Republican, has said that the state’s mask mandate will expire Friday, but that businesses can still require masks.

But there are no such plans in Maine, according to Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and Jeanne Lambrew, commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.

Maine requires people to wear masks while in public settings.

In other pandemic news in Maine:

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THE NUMBERS

The number of coronavirus infection remains high in Maine.

With the number of infections topping 500 for a fourth consecutive day, the seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Maine has risen over the past two weeks from 228.29 on March 31 to 422.57 on Wednesday.

The total number of infections since the pandemic began numbered 56,525 with 763 deaths, including another five reported Friday.

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UTILITY SHUTOFFS

Utility shutoffs are going to resume after an 18-month hiatus during the pandemic.

Under Maine law, gas and electric utilities are not allowed to shut off service during the winter, between Nov. 15 and April 15. But the Maine Public Utilities Commission kept the moratorium on cutoffs in place for all of last year because of financial difficulties people were experiencing during the pandemic.

PUC Chair Philip L. Bartlett II said he expects utilities to be flexible with customers.

Central Maine Power sent letters to 65,000 customers to warn them about past due bills, but the utility hopes to work out payment plans with them, Linda Ball, CMP’s vice president of customer service, told the Sun Journal.

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CDC DIRECTOR SPEECH

Shah will deliver the commencement address at the largest private university in the state.

The Maine CDC director is slated to speak to graduates of University of New England during the university's May 15 and 16 commencement exercises. The university said Thursday Shah will deliver remarks via video at each of the university's six individual college graduation ceremonies.

Shah has been the public face of Maine's response to the coronavirus pandemic, and his regular briefings have earned him a following of admirers online. One such fan group, “Fans of Dr. Nirav Shah,” boasts more than 38,000 members on Facebook.

Shah became director of Maine CDC in June 2019. Shah said he extends “deep gratitude to the entire University of New England community for this honor.”

The university is scheduled to award more than 1,800 degrees this year. It's home to the only medical school in Maine.