Edition for Thurs., July 2, 2020
To view this edition of Impact online, click here.
Welcome to your COVID-19
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!
This is ME Counting on You
| Staying the Course on Safe Practices
In May, the Maine State Chamber of Commerce launched "This is ME Counting on You," a public awareness
campaign encouraging Mainers to do their part to stop the spread of COVID-19.
The initiative aims to reinforce the message that following recommended
health and safety guidelines, such as wearing a mask and practicing social
distancing, will help make sure Maine reopens safely and successfully. We are
all counting on each other to act responsibly so Maine can get back to
business, Maine people can get back to work, and Maine's economic recovery
can move forward.
As businesses across
Maine are reopening, and summer and the July 4 holiday are upon us, we want
to first, send wishes for a Happy 4th of July celebration with family and
friends. Second, we want to emphasize that staying the course on recommended
health and safety protocols is just as important now as when we launched
"This is ME Counting on You." All of us -- Maine residents and visitors alike
-- are in the fight against COVID-19 together, with the common goal of
preventing a public health or economic setback.
We know Maine businesses take very seriously their role in keeping their employees and customers safe and preventing the spread or a resurgence of COVID-19. Based on a recent survey conducted by the Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber (SMMC) to provide business owners with insights into what consumers value in terms of safety practices related to COVID-19, most consumers take safety measures seriously, too. With nearly 3,000 respondents, SMMC executive director Cory King concluded, "Social distancing is good business, but we didn't know how impactful until this survey." He added, "It's not absolute - no survey is - but clearly 40-65% of Maine consumers factor social distancing and masking into their business patronage decisions."
We continue to share
safe practice reminders and spread the "This is ME Counting on You" message
through the initiative's PSA that is airing on
cable television and Maine Public stations across Maine. The website, www.MeCountingOnYou.org, has updated resources, including floor stickers
available to businesses upon request, and printable posters for employers to
place in their establishments to help provide reminders for employees,
customers, and visitors to practice safe behavior. "This is ME Counting on
You" is also on Facebook. We hope businesses across Maine will share photos of the
floor stickers and posters in their workplaces with us on Facebook, along
with messages of safe practices, using the hashtag #MECountingOnYou.
We are all in this
together and counting on each other to continue acting safely and responsibly.
That is the best way we can support one another, our communities, and Maine
businesses as they reopen. It is the surest way to ensure Maine's economic
As always, the Maine
State Chamber of Commerce is here to serve Maine's business community, and
never more so than during these challenging times.
Thank you and Happy
Recovery Committee Urges
Immediate Action to Save Maine's Economy
to an article in Mainebiz, a preliminary report from the Economic Recovery Committee indicates Maine is teetering
on an economic cliff, and it's urgent that the state take action as soon as
possible. Three immediate issues to address are education support, a $300
million immediate direct economic relief program, and broadband investment, committee
chairs Josh Broder and Laurie Lachance wrote in a letter to Gov. Janet Mills accompanying the
report. The committee also offered more than a dozen "quick
The committee was established by Mills in early May, with Broder, CEO
of Tilson, and Lachance, president of Thomas College, as chairs. It must
submit "quick start" recommendations to help Maine's economy by
July 15, and long-term recommendations by Dec. 1. The preliminary report,
published today, was in anticipation of a more detailed July 15 report. The
committee, made up of 47 business and government leaders from around the
state, has held seven full meetings and more than 50 subcommittee meetings.
This week, the end of the federal Payroll Protection
Program and other economic support "represents an economic cliff for our
state, and nation, for which there is no modern precedent or forecast,"
Lachance and Broder noted. "Unless further stimulus emerges at the
federal level the effect on our state's people and businesses will be
devastating." They said that the $1.25 billion the state has been
awarded under the federal CARES Act is not enough to save Maine's economy,
which means tough decisions for the state.
Maine Anticipates Slow
Recovery From Coronavirus-Induced Recession
According to a recent Bangor
Daily News article, Maine economic forecasters on Wednesday projected a slow recovery from a coronavirus-induced recession that has hit the
state's tourism-dependent labor force harder than most other states. The
Consensus Economic Forecasting Commission was charged by Gov. Janet Mills to
revise a rosy February forecast after it became apparent that the virus would
devastate employment and state revenue. Its July report says the economy will
slowly rebound over the next two years, assuming new cases are effectively
managed and that more federal aid comes. Those expectations are tempered with
uncertainty of a vaccine and the possibility of a second wave. Workforce
recovery could be hamstrung if parents are forced to stay home due to schools
not reopening or scarce childcare.
Maine's Primary Election
is July 14
Request Your Absentee Ballot HERE
Before each election, the Secretary of State's office provides
information about the questions appearing on each ballot. Currently two referendum
questions will appear on the July 14, 2020, Special Referendum Election
Ballot. Each question is discussed in detail in the Maine Citizen's Guide to the Referendum
Election (PDF / Word) and a Treasurer's Statement, which
includes the referendum questions; the
legislation each question represents; a summary of the intent and content of
the legislation; an explanation of the significance of a "yes" or "no" vote; an
analysis of the debt service on the bond issues; and, an estimate of the
fiscal impact of each referendum question on state revenues, appropriations
Question 1: Bond
Do you favor a $15,000,000 bond issue to invest in high-speed internet infrastructure for unserved and underserved areas, to be used to match up to $30,000,000 in federal, private, local or other funds?
Question 2: Bond
Do you favor a $105,000,000 bond issue for improvement of highways and bridges statewide and for multimodal facilities or equipment related to transit, freight and passenger railroads, aviation, ports, harbors, marine transportation and active transportation projects, to be used to match an estimated $275,000,000 in federal and other funds?
A YES vote on Questions 1
and 2 - expanding broadband and investing in transportation improvements
- will help us get there!
Tuesday, July 14, 2020
this webinar, we will discuss how messages and marketing need to change in
order to successfully connect with target audiences. We'll look at how brain
chemistry influences decision making and simple but effective ways to
State Chamber of Commerce | Presented by: Paula Mahony,
President & Chief Strategist, Words@Work
Bangor Savings Bank, Central
Maine Power Company, and
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or calling (207) 623-4568, ext. 104.
Claims for Unemployment Compensation, Week Ending June 27
On July 2, the Maine Department of Labor reported that, for
the week ending June 27, the Department recorded about
3,000 initial claims filed for state unemployment insurance, and an
additional 2,200 initial claims filed for federal Pandemic Unemployment
Assistance (PUA). These claims represent about 4,100 individuals filing an
initial claim. About 62,300 weekly certifications, or continued claims, were
filed last week for state unemployment. In addition, about 28,000 weekly
certifications were filed under PUA. Weekly certifications must be filed by
claimants every week in order to continue to receive unemployment benefits.
Data is preliminary and subject to revision.
Between March 15 and June 27, the Maine Department of Labor
has seen about 165,000 initial claims for the state unemployment program and
74,600 initial claims for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program.
There have been over 1.4 million weekly certifications filed, and the
Department has paid out more than $957 million in federal and state
unemployment benefits. Total benefits to Maine workers delivered by the
Department during the pandemic are expected to surpass $1 billion within the
The Maine Department of Labor continues its careful review
of all claims as it investigates
unemployment imposter fraud. Unemployment imposter fraud is when a
person's Personally Identifiable Information, or PII, is stolen and used
illegally to apply for unemployment benefits. Maine is one of many U.S.
states working in close collaboration with state and federal law enforcement
and regulatory agencies to investigate and prevent it.
Maine Department of Labor Announces 13 Additional Weeks of
Unemployment Benefits Available
people receiving unemployment benefits are now eligible to receive 13
additional weeks of payments, if they exhaust their initial 26-week
benefit period. This expansion of support is through the third and final new
federal unemployment insurance program, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment
Compensation (PEUC), which the Maine Department of Labor implemented. Those
who had already exhausted their benefits and were waiting for PEUC to be
implemented were temporarily being paid benefits through another federal
program, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, and will now be automatically
enrolled in PEUC.
Department reminds all claimants to report any earnings they make in their
weekly certification. If they are making partial earnings, the Department has
that explains how to report those earnings.
are also encouraged to explore
the WorkShare program, which helps businesses
retain their workforce during temporary slowdown in work. The program allows
employers to voluntarily reduce the hours of staff in lieu of layoffs. Under WorkShare, employees may collect a partial unemployment
benefit (including the extra federal $600 through July 25) to help them
offset the loss of income.
Thursday, July 9 | The
Bottom Line Podcast
with Mark McInerney of the Center for Workforce Research
director of the Center for Workforce Research and Information (CWRI) at the
Maine Department of Labor, will be next week's special guest on The Bottom Line podcast. He joins The Bottom Line co-hosts Dana Connors
of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce and John Williams of Williams
Broadcasting to discuss the work of the CWRI during the COVID-19 pandemic as
it provides state and area labor market information to employers, job
seekers, and others.
To listen live, please visit Williams
scroll down to "Listen Online" at the bottom of the homepage. To listen to the archived recordings,
please visit The Bottom Line page on the Maine State Chamber's
website. In addition, The Bottom Line
podcast can be heard on iTunes, iHeart Radio, Soundcloud, Stitcher Radio,
Spotify and radio.com.
Use the Maine State Chamber's Blog and Daily Impact to Tell
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
Each 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
more information or questions, please contact Mark Ellis by emailing email@example.com or
by calling (207) 623-4568, ext. 109.
Northeast Delta Dental offers $27 million in COVID-19
Northeast Delta Dental's ongoing support of businesses and nonprofits negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic is primarily focused on advancing the oral health and overall wellness of its customers and the public. President & CEO, Tom Raffio, said, "We're committed to thoughtfully and methodically providing forms of relief to our stakeholders and our communities that would be most beneficial to them, with their safety and health uppermost in our considerations. None of the related costs were passed along to them."
Northeast Delta Dental will provide relief totaling $18.8 million in
returned and reduced premiums to individual and group customers by: extending
rate holds for fully insured individual and group customers renewing July
through December, 2020; crediting all fully insured individual and group
customers with a one-month dental premium in July based on June's billed
amount; and crediting all self-insured group customers for the July
administrative fee. It will help the
producers and consultants who market its dental insurance by providing relief
payments totaling $700,000 for the premium/administrative credit period based
on commissions paid for the previous month.
Early in the crisis, Northeast Delta Dental also provided two forms of
financial relief totaling $4.3 million to its participating dentists, one
based on procedures performed by network dentists and oral surgeons in 2019,
the other on procedures performed from mid-February to mid-March, 2020. The closing of dental offices constricted
the ability of patients to receive non-emergency dental procedures. To aid reopening dental offices in ensuring
the safety of their staff and patients, Northeast Delta Dental invested an
additional $2.7 million. With those funds more than 120,000 KN95 masks were
purchased and made available to network dentists and oral surgeons. In many cases, these were personally
hand-delivered by board members and employees. Also, included is a $10
reimbursement per visit to cover the cost of personal protective equipment
(PPE) during the months of May and June.
To meet critical needs created by the COVID-19 crisis, in early March
Northeast Delta Dental committed $500,000 to help organizations needing
assistance. It also empowered 20 oral
health programs in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont to use the more than
$170,000 in grants awarded to them by the Northeast Delta Dental Foundation
for challenges relating to COVID-19, if needed, rather than the oral health
needs described in their applications.
The Company is also honoring the many commitments it made to sponsor
events, some of which were in the planning process when the ability to hold
events became prohibitive. This was
accomplished by Northeast Delta Dental providing funds directly to the
organizations the fundraisers benefit.
University of Maine System Commits to Being Together for
Maine this Fall
Malloy, UMS University Presidents and Dean of Maine Law unveil unifying
principles universities will be using to start on-campus instruction August
31 as scheduled
Chancellor Dannel Malloy, Maine's
public university presidents, and the dean of Maine Law have adopted
a set of unifying safe return and learning principles that will be used
in campus-specific plans to bring students, faculty, and staff back to campus
for face-to-face instruction starting on Aug. 31, the beginning of the fall
2020 semester. The release of Together for Maine: Principles for a Safe
Return kicks off a cascade of student and
community messaging at the universities to keep stakeholders informed of
campus-specific plans and updates over the summer.
The key elements of the principles include screening strategies to identify and
isolate infection at the start of the semester,
and a commitment to stay safe and together during the semester with
science-based practices aligned with guidance from public health authorities
and the UMS
Scientific Advisory Board, chaired by
University of Maine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy.
The universities will end in-person instruction and ask students to depart
residence halls before the start of the Thanksgiving holiday, with plans to
complete the final two weeks of instruction and exams remotely to help limit
travel-related spread of infection.
The University of Maine System will continue to monitor the
public health situation, following civil guidance and adjusting plans if necessary to protect student and community health. The
System launched together.maine.edu to provide links to campus-specific return plans, and to
archive and issue new guidance related to the UMS response to
For more information on the University of Maine System's
leadership in response to the COVID-19 pandemic visit this infographic and read President Ferrini-Mundy's recent column
on 100 days of pandemic response.
Providing Books to Maine Students
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 found here.
Thank you for supporting Maine students.
you for doing your part!
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