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Maine pols: Time to open border for vaccinated Canadians

July 22, 2021 GMT

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (AP) — Maine’s governor and congressional delegation believe it’s time to open the international border to vaccinated Canadians.

Maine is home to several border communities that have been disrupted by the closed border during the coronavirus pandemic. The Canadian government has said vaccinated Americans can cross the border starting Aug. 9.

The United States government, however, on Wednesday extended the closure of the land borders with Canada and Mexico to nonessential travelers until at least Aug. 21.

Republican Sen. Susan Collins, independent Sen. Angus King and Democratic Reps. Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden sent a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas on Wednesday that said the border closure “has a negative impact on our local economies and families, which is why we urge you to develop an immediate plan to allow vaccinated Canadians to resume travel to United States.”

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Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, also said Wednesday that the time has arrived. Many traditional Maine industries, such as blueberry farming and lobster fishing, are economically tied to Canada and the closure has caused economic difficulty in the state.

“The state of Maine is inextricably bound to our Canadian neighbors. Our ties stretch across our economy, our culture, and our families,” Mills said. “The decision to prolong the border closure on our end only diminishes these ties, hurts local economies, and separates families, particularly in northern and eastern Maine, whose relatives in Canada will be unable to travel here to see their loved ones.”

In other pandemic news in Maine:

THE NUMBERS

New daily cases of the coronavirus continued an upward trend in Maine and around the country.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Maine has risen over the past two weeks from 17.86 new cases per day on July 6 to 50 new cases per day on July 20. The seven-day rolling average of daily deaths in Maine has risen over the past two weeks from 0.43 deaths per day on July 6 to 2.86 deaths per day on July 20.

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday that there have been more than 69,000 cases of the virus and 891 deaths in Maine since the start of the pandemic. About 68% of the state’s eligible population is fully vaccinated against coronavirus.