Edition for Monday, June 15, 2020
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your COVID-19 Impact newsletter!
As a valued member of
the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, we plan to stay in touch with you
several times each week through emails like this one and on Facebook and Twitter, until the pandemic passes. We
intend to provide you with the latest state and federal information, as well
as highlighting the creativity and innovation that is occuring here in Maine
during this unpredictable and rapidly changing time. To assist you in
navigating the uncertainties ahead, we have created a diverse and
comprehensive collection of web-based resources to help you take care of yourself and your family, your employees, your business, and your community.
Do you have a question? ASK THE EXPERTS.
We are here to
help in any way we can!
Hospitality Groups Propose
$800m Recovery Plan for Maine's Tourism Industry
Late last week, Mainebiz reported that a group
of Maine hospitality and retail organizations is proposing an $800
million plan to help the state's tourist industry recover from COVID-19
shutdowns. Saying the shutdowns, including a quarantine of out-of-state
visitors, have devastated the state's short summer tourist season, the Maine
Hospitality & Tourism Alliance is asking Gov. Janet Mills to earmark the
funds to rejuvenate small businesses in that sector. The money would come
from the $1.25 billion in CARES Act funding allotted to Maine.
The group outlined the Maine
Hospitality, Tourism & Retail Recovery Plan at a news conference held
in the parking lot of DiMillo's, on the Portland Pier, late Friday morning.
The multi-phased relief proposal allots Emergency Action Grants to small
businesses across the state that have been affected so they can keep their
doors open and pay basic operating costs including rent, mortgage and
payroll, the group said in a news
release accompanying the announcement. Gov. Janet Mills would
have to agree to help allot the money to the program, and the state would
administer the plan.
The state has lost more than
105,000 jobs because of COVID-19 shutdowns, according to the Maine Department
of Labor, including 12,000 in retail and 42,600 in hospitality. "When
you look at the statistics, it's astounding," said Dana Connors, president of the Maine Chamber of Commerce.
"When you look at all that's impacted that's before you today, you're going
to find that's conservative."
He added that two-thirds of
the value is the summer season, "and that has already begun." The
plan, he noted, takes care of "everything that needs to be done at this
time," but the group will need to continue to work on opening state to
tourism. While he commended Mills for keeping public health front and
foremost, "Public health and economic health are side by side partners,
we need them both," he said. "We need a state that depends on
safety, but also depends on economic success."
Additional Media Coverage:
Announces That Indoor Dining in Androscoggin, Cumberland & York Counties
Can Resume on June 17 with Added Health and Safety Precautions
The Mills Administration announced
today that indoor dining in Androscoggin, Cumberland, and York counties
can voluntarily resume on Wednesday, June 17, with added health and safety
protocols outlined in the COVID-19
Prevention Checklist. The decision to allow inside dining in these three
counties follows a plateauing of new cases in recent weeks, based on the
14-day moving average, as well as the stabilization of hospital rates in the
same counties. Previously, only outside dining, takeaway, and delivery
services were permitted at restaurants in these three counties. With this
change, restaurants statewide will now be open to both inside and outside
dining with added health and safety precautions.
The Mills Administration is
also further aligning re-openings in these counties with the rural part of
Maine's Economy Plan. Also effective Wednesday, June 17 in Androscoggin,
Cumberland, and York counties, bars, breweries, and tasting rooms are
permitted to open for outdoor, seated service while gyms, nail salons, and
tattoo parlors may also reopen, all with added health and safety protocols.
Additionally, the Administration is also expanding capacity limits at retail
establishments, allowing up to 5 customers per 1,000 square feet, given the
decreasing risk associated with retail shopping and the assumption that
stores will continue to require staff to wear cloth face coverings and follow
strict public health precautions. This change replaces the customer limits
established in a previous Executive Order.
The Administration continues
to remind Maine people to follow State requirements and U.S. and Maine CDC
recommendations, such as wearing cloth face coverings, staying six feet apart
whenever possible, and frequently washing hands with soap and warm water. New research
demonstrates that wearing face coverings can significantly slow the spread of
COVID-19, underscoring the importance of wearing them.
Maine DHHS Announces
Nearly $11 Million in CARES Act Funding Awarded to Support Essential Workers and
Child Care Providers
On Friday, Maine's Department of
Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced that 525 essential workers have
received financial help for child care and more than 1,600 child care
providers have received stipends as part of the award of nearly $11 million
in federal CARES Act funding to Maine.
Maine received $10,953,470 for childcare
under the CARES Act in late April through the U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services Administration for Children and Families' Child Care and
Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program. The CCDBG program helps eligible
low-income and working families to afford childcare and supports providers in
delivering high-quality care.
the award on April 22, DHHS has distributed over $6 million, with the
remainder to be distributed by mid-July under a plan that
supports Maine families and child care providers in the face of the COVID-19
pandemic. Funds have so far been distributed as childcare subsidies for
essential workers and as stipends for childcare providers. DHHS is now
preparing to distribute the remaining CARES Act funds to support childcare
providers in resuming or continuing operations.
According to Friday's DHHS press
release, as of today, more than 75 percent of Maine's approximately 1,800
licensed child care providers are open, up from about 50 percent in April.
Senator Collins Honored
with U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Bipartisanship Award
Last week, the U.S. Chamber of
Commerce honored U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) with the inaugural Jefferson-Hamilton Award for Bipartisanship, which recognizes members of Congress
who demonstrate the bipartisan leadership and constructive governing necessary
to move our country forward. Senators Collins and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) both
received a perfect score, the only two members of the Senate to do so.
'The Maine Chamber congratulates Senator Collins on earning the distinction of being the most bipartisan Republican Senator," said Dana Connors, President of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce. "In this era of increasing polarization, it is more important than ever for leaders to reach across the aisle to help our economy and American families. Senator Collins has a proven record of bipartisan accomplishments like the Paycheck Protection Program that have been a lifeline for small businesses and have supported job creation."
In addition to Senators
Collins and Sinema, two members of the House of Representatives received the
Jefferson-Hamilton Award for Bipartisanship: Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick
(R-PA-1), and Rep. Joshua Gottheimer (D-NJ-5).
Watch the video of the
Maine Tells Schools to
Prepare for a Fall That Could Still Involve Remote Learning
The Bangor Daily News recently reported that Maine
is advising schools districts across the state to prepare for in-person,
remote and blended learning models for the fall, with protocols in place to
respond to potential coronavirus cases if they arise, according to a draft plan
released by the Maine Department of Education, released last Thursday evening.
The document, acknowledges that Maine students may have experienced learning
losses due to the prolonged shutdown and advises schools to prepare creative
learning practices as well as provide professional development opportunities
to teachers over the summer to equip them for the full range of scenarios. When
schools return will be determined by the Department of Education, in
cooperation with the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the
Maine Emergency Management Association, the
plan says. That decision will be based on local coronavirus trends and
whether reopening would be consistent with public health orders, such as
Bates College Plans to
Reopen for Fall Semester
According the the Sun Journal, Bates College is eyeing
"a very different campus" come fall, but one that will have students. College
President Clayton Spencer told alumni the college intends to open for
students in early September and to send them home before Thanksgiving. The
key, college officials said, is to make sure they can keep
students, faculty and staff safe during a pandemic that continues to pose
risks. Details of how that will be done are still being worked out.
Like most colleges, Bates has
been shut down since mid-March, its students finishing up their spring
semester remotely, mostly online. It has been scrambling ever since to figure
out how it could bring them back for the next academic year. The college has
not made a formal decision yet that it can be done. Spencer said most
colleges, including Bates' peers in the New England Small College Athletic
Conference, are planning much the same approach for the fall semester. Basically,
students will wind up having four short semesters instead of two longer ones.
Each of the sessions will have students generally taking two courses rather
than the four at once they typically handle.
She said college officials
have spent "a great deal of time" on the issues involved, including a key
one: whether there will be enough testing capacity to make the environment
safe enough for students, teachers and staff. What's necessary, she said, is
having the ability to isolate anyone who comes down with COVID-19 so that the
disease can't spread. That, of course, requires the capacity to tell when
someone is sick. Spencer said wearing masks is one critical way to block the
Webinar on WorkShare:
2:00 p.m. to
presentation in our webinar series explores how employers may be
able to avoid layoffs by choosing the WorkShare alternative. In lieu of a layoff,
employers can temporarily reduce work hours in a particular unit, shift or
company from 10% to 50%. To help offset the loss of hours, the affected
workers can receive a modified weekly unemployment benefit. Join us to learn
more about this program and how it might work for your business. Our
presenters for this webinar are Commissioner Laura Fortman and Deputy
Commissioner Kim Smith of the Maine Department of Labor.
11:30 a.m. to
Maine's state primary election
will be held on July 14. Due to COVID-19 gathering guidelines, this election
will most certainly look different than past elections. Join the Maine State
Chamber's June webinar series to hear Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap
talk about what citizens can expect as we cast our ballots next month. This
webinar is hosted by the Maine State Chamber of Commerce and presented by
Secretary of State Matt Dunlap.
11:00 a.m. to
Maine employers have been
faced with many challenging issues from the COVID public health emergency. In
webinar, we now turn our focus to the return-to-work phase, which
raises many employment-related concerns, such as properly preparing the
workplace for the new reality under OSHA and CDC recommendations, determining
how employee recalls will work, ongoing unemployment, accommodation claims
and disability related issues, potential other leave application, and similar
topics. This session will navigate these and other related issues and provide
an opportunity for questions. Hosted by the Maine State Chamber of Commerce,
our presenter for this webinar is Anne-Marie Storey, partner at Rudman
WEBINAR SERIES SPONSORS:
Bangor Savings Bank, Central Maine Power Company, and
Additional webinars will be
forthcoming, and sponsorship
opportunities are available. Registration or general questions can be
directed to Angela Arno, director of programs and events for the Maine State
Chamber of Commerce, by emailing email@example.com or
calling (207) 623-4568, ext. 104.
Use the Maine State Chamber's Blog and Daily
Impact to Tell Your Story!
Numerous Maine companies are stepping up or
pivoting nimbly, as Maine people resourcefully address the challenges of this
pandemic. Share your perspective and experience with us and with the rest of
the business community. How are you facing and overcoming the challenges
posed by this pandemic? What are you and your employees doing in this
dramatically different economy? Tell us about the innovations your company or
employees are making or ways you have adapted your company to meet your
blog entry should be 300 to 500 words. Join
us in creating a written history of the business community's resilience and
innovation during this extraordinary time. Please submit your entries to firstname.lastname@example.org. For
more information or questions, please contact Mark Ellis by emailing email@example.com or
by calling (207) 623-4568, ext. 109.
Providing Books to Maine
Maine educators were recently surveyed about critical needs of their students. Books were highlighted as a top priority for students of all ages. Supporting reading is essential for students to continue to thrive in schools. Making certain that our students, particularly our youngest readers, have easy access to books during the end of the school year and throughout the summer is crucial for preventing summer slide.
Even with yeoman-like efforts
by Maine teachers and a hands-on approach from the Maine Department of
Education to ensure all Maine students have been able to continue learning
remotely during the pandemic, we know that learning over these past few
months has inevitably been disrupted. In addition to the school year
disruption, student achievement often widens during the summer, an outcome
referred to as summer slide. Summer slide accounts for as much as 85 percent
of the reading achievement gap between lower income students and their
middle- and upper-income peers. Providing students with appropriate books
will help address this challenge. Not only does summer reading enable
students to continue practicing foundational skills, but it opens the world
to students through stories and knowledge building around topics of interest. We need your help to ensure students across
our 16 counties have access to books, an essential commodity.
Here are a few ways you can
support Maine students:
1 2020 Maine Books Challenge: Educate Maine is leading this
initiative to provide students with books while supporting local bookstores.
You can purchase an online or physical gift card at one of Maine's
independent bookstores. Every $10 donation provides a book for a Maine
student. Every donation will be matched by the Law Offices of Joe Bornstein
up to $5,000. Teachers across Maine will help coordinate book distribution to
students. If interested in supporting this effort, please email Katherine at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2 Scholastic Books: This company has offered significant discounts
to help get books to Maine students. For example, a $1,000 donation can
support 300 books for 100 students. A $5,000 donation can support 1,500 books
for 500 students. If interested in supporting this effort, please email Megan
Diver at email@example.com.
3 Community Book Donations: Gently used books are also needed
across Maine. We are seeking community drop off spots at local employers
throughout the 16 counties. If your business is interested in becoming a
location for books to be collected, please email Megan Diver at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Books will be distributed to
students directly through their schools and at local meal sites throughout
the summer. Additional information about summer literacy initiatives can be
Thank you for supporting Maine students.
Thank you for doing
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