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Bangor and Bar Harbor are among the 96 Maine cities and towns that will receive federal money for public health campaigns around the coronavirus as businesses open up statewide, Gov. Janet Mills’ administration said on Friday.
The state approved nearly $9 million in federal grants to municipalities who proposed public health projects geared towards coronavirus education and prevention efforts. The idea is to incentivize communities to come up with their own plans and then reimburse them for staff time and material used to implement them with CARES Act funding.
The size and scale of the project vary. Bangor was awarded $158,000 to promote outdoor dining at restaurants and the “Mask Up for Me” campaign from the Community Health Leadership Board. The campaign encourages people to wear masks in public places and collects homemade cloth face coverings and distributes them to those who do not have them.
Bar Harbor, meanwhile, was given $127,000 to post additional signs, distribute free face coverings and sanitizer for visitors and a “parklet program” that will encourage indoor businesses to move outside, according to a news release.
The biggest award went to Portland, which has the highest population and case counts in the state, according to a list of preliminary grants provided by the state. That community got $1.8 million; the smallest went to Sweden with $930. Some awards were not listed as the state is still gathering information about those applications.
The state has earmarked $13 million in all for similar programs as a part of Mills’ “Keep Maine Healthy” plan, which also includes a quarantine alternative for out of state visitors and increased symptom checks in tourist destinations.
It is part of the state’s overall efforts to try and mitigate a spike in cases as it gradually reopens and tourists return, though some frequent tourists have balked at returning, saying a requirement that they be tested within 72 hours of arriving in Maine is prohibitive.