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$200M available to loggers hurt by the pandemic

July 20, 2021 GMT

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The federal government is making $200 million available for logging businesses that have been hurt by the pandemic.

Republican Sen. Susan Collins and Democratic Rep. Jared Golden were co-authors of the Loggers Relief Act, and they pressed for the funding to be expedited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“This much-needed support for Maine’s family logging and log hauling businesses is now on the way,” Collins said.

Paper mills drastically slashed output or shut down their operations during the pandemic, adding to the pressures on loggers and log haulers.

The offices of Collins and Golden said they are ready to help constituents navigate the application process.

In other pandemic-related news:

VACCINATION RATES

More than 70% of Maine residents age 20 and older are now fully vaccinated against coronavirus.

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday that more than 67% of all the eligible people in the state are fully vaccinated. The number tracks higher for older age groups. It’s more than 80% for Maine residents who are age 50 and older.

Maine has one of the highest rates of coronavirus vaccination in the country. The vaccines are available to everyone age 12 and older in all states.

Maine is using pop-up vaccine clinics to try to get the vaccine for more people as cases rise around the country this summer.

PORTLAND-EMERGENCY

The Portland City Council has voted to end a state of emergency imposed because of the pandemic.

The local emergency declaration would end July 29, terminating the additional powers granted to the city manager during the pandemic that were used to restrict public gatherings and impose curfews.

It would have meant an end to the city’s extra hazard pay for minimum-wage workers, but the state supreme court ruled this month that the provision does not go into effect until 2020. Nonetheless, some employers went ahead and paid the hazard pay, which was $18.23 an hour, compared to the statewide $12.15 minimum wage.

The decision to end the state of emergency paves the way for the City Council to resume in-person meetings.

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Follow AP’s coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic.