Maine GOP leader: Talk to those opposed to virus rules

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The Republican leader of Maine’s House of Representatives believes the state needs more conversation and less confrontation about the coronavirus pandemic.

Rep. Kathleen Dillingham of Oxford used a holiday radio address to say that the state and the country were “bombarded with negative politics at its worst" during the campaign season. The holiday season is a good time to reach out to people who might feel differently about the state's response to the pandemic and try to find common ground, she said.

“Follow recommended health and safety guidelines but, rather than focusing on calling a hotline to register a complaint against family, friends and neighbors, try instead to reach out to those who may have opposing viewpoints and engage in conversation,” Dillingham said.

Dillingham also said Maine's rules designed to slow the spread of the virus “often appear arbitrary in their application.” Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, and other state officials have defended Maine's rules about face coverings, crowd sizes and other restrictions as necessary to prevent more infections.

In other pandemic news in Maine:

RATE INCREASES AGAIN

The latest average positivity rate in Maine is 2.89%. 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 7-day rolling average of the positivity rate in Maine has risen over the past two weeks from 1.97% on Nov. 12 to 2.89% on Nov. 26.

Public health authorities in the state have reported 190 deaths from the virus along with more than 11,000 cases since the start of the pandemic.