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Maine Continues To Have Low COVID Infection And Death Rate, Launches Targeted $2M Tourism Campaign

Robert F. Bukaty
AP Images
A worker talks with a customer at Red's Eats, a popular lobster roll stand, Wednesday, July 22, 2020, in Wiscasset, Maine.

The Maine Center for Disease Control reported 24 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday, with a net increase of 14 additional cases, making a total of 3,737. The number of deaths held steady for the second consecutive day and remains at 118.

The state continues to have one of the lowest infection and death rates in the United States. And Maine's success so far in controlling its outbreak is prompting state officials to spend nearly $2 million encouraging visitors from certain states to vacation here. The campaign by the Maine Office of Tourism includes television, radio and digital ads, and it focuses on residents vacationing within the state, as well as tourists from the five states currently exempt from Maine's 14-day quarantine or testing requirements.

At a Maine CDC briefing Thursday, Director Dr. Nirav Shah said that movement between states during the pandemic does pose a risk, but he says the states targeted by the ad campaign have a comparable prevalence of COVID-19.

"In epidemiological terms, although there are no guarantees, the data suggest that the individuals from those states can come to Maine for short periods of time, like vacation, and not bring an added risk with them," Shah said.

The states targeted by the campaign are Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

Also Thursday, Shah highlighted some other positive in Maine trends, including a seven day positivity rate of 1 percent — well below the national average of 9 percent.

"Although these numbers are encouraging, they are not an occasion for a victory lap,” Shah said. “The situation that continues to unfold across the western and southern states could still take hold in Maine."

Shah was referring to a resurgence of the disease that has prompted states, including Arizona, Texas and California, to stall or roll back economic restart plans.

Updated July 23, 2020 4:20 p.m.