Maine Hoops’ plan for December games gets blocked out
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The Maine health department and the state’s largest organizer of club sport basketball games are at odds over whether games can be played this month.
Health Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew warned in a letter Thursday that games may not be scheduled before Jan. 11 under state guidelines.
But Maine Hoops is pushing back, insisting that they are scrimmages, not games, among players arranged into cohorts under the same organizational umbrella. It wants to begin the contests on Dec. 18.
That’s also earlier than the state would allow scrimmages, according to the latest guidance. Team practices and scrimmages for winter sports will be delayed from Dec. 14 to Jan. 4, the administration of Democratic Gov. Janet Mills said Friday. Drills and conditioning can begin on Dec. 7 as planned, the administration said.
State officials said they made those changes in collaboration with the Maine Principals Association.
Maine Hoops ran over 1,500 games through the summer and fall, operating in the same way it intends to this winter, said Maine Hoops owner and operator Lenny Holmes.
He said he has responded to Lambrew and is awaiting further word.
In other coronavirus news:
The number of new coronavirus cases hovered near 300 again on Friday.
The Maine Center for Disease Control reported 290 additional cases, along with four deaths, on Friday. Again, new cases were reported in all but one of Maine’s 16 counties.
The seven-day average of daily cases is 228. The seven-day rolling average of the positivity rate in Maine did not increase or decease over the past two weeks, staying at 2.13% from Nov. 19 to Thursday.
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 worst stretch of the pandemic comes as pharmaceutical companies, the federal government and the Maine health department prepare to roll out distribution of vaccines this month.
Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, said Friday she is extending through Jan. 3 a requirement that some businesses close by 9 p.m.
Mills initiated the policy prior to Thanksgiving and originally said it would apply to some businesses until Dec. 6.
The rules apply to all outdoor and indoor entertainment venues, performing arts venues, casinos, movie theaters, and businesses that provide seated food and drink. That includes social clubs, restaurants, bars and tasting rooms.
“It’s too early to know the impact of the Thanksgiving holiday on the spread of COVID-19 in Maine,” Mills said, “but with hundreds of people getting sick all across the state, and many more dying and so many receiving critical care in our overburdened hospitals, we cannot afford to let down our guard.”
Maine public health officials announced Friday they have placed orders to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more than 12,000 doses of a coronavirus vaccine. Mills said this week that she had hoped for more doses in the first shipment.
Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Nirav Shah said the agency is “confident that Maine CDC will receive these doses and are in position to administer them to the highest priority recipients, such as health care providers and residents of long-term care facilities.”
He added that the first shipment is only the first step in a long process of immunizing Mainers.