The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday reported five COVID-19 deaths, including one in Aroostook County.

Testing has confirmed another 47 new coronavirus cases in the state, according to the CDC report. Twenty-seven people are currently being treated for the disease at hospitals in Maine with 14 patients in critical care.

Reported coronavirus cases and deaths had declined significantly between April and June and now appear to be on the rise again. State health officials have reported 27 COVID-related deaths in Maine so far this month, bringing the total number of fatalities in the state to 887 since the pandemic began. Aroostook County has recorded five deaths in July, for a total of 53 overall.

Pandemic Relief Available to Logging and Timber Hauling Businesses

The U.S. government is making available $200 million for logging businesses that have been hurt by the pandemic.

Senator Susan Collins and Rep. Jared Golden of Maine were co-authors of the Loggers Relief Act. Senator Angus King and Representative Chellie Pingree also co-sponsored the bill, which was included in the final COVID-19 relief package in December.

The Maine Congressional delegation pressed  the U.S. Department of Agriculture to expedite the funding to helping struggling businesses..

Timber harvesting and hauling businesses are eligible to apply for relief funding if they experienced at least a 10 percent loss in revenue in 2020, as compared to 2019.Sen. Collins' office says the direct payments will be equal to 10 percent of their gross revenue from 2019, with the funds to be used for operating expenses, including payroll.

Collins said,  “Loggers were already facing significant headwinds due to a changing 21st century economy and unfair trade practices, as well as the explosion at the Androscoggin Mill in Jay and the shutdown of the #9 paper machine and biomass boiler at Sappi in Westbrook.  COVID-19 only compounded these challenges."

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