Good morning from Augusta. There are nine days until the new Maine Legislature convenes.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “We have a blank canvas across the street [where the buildings were destroyed],” E.J. Roach, Old Town’s director of economic and community development, said of the September 2019 fire that destroyed a major section of the city’s center and led it to consider its image. “I see it as an opportunity to shape Old Town.” Here’s your soundtrack.
What we’re watching today
Encouraging news about coronavirus vaccine development continues to flow in, with the potential for a vaccine approved by mid-December. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is planning to consider emergency approval of a vaccine developed by Pfizer on Dec. 10. If the vaccine is approved, people could begin receiving the first doses within days.
The first phase of vaccine rollout in Maine would target health care workers in high-risk settings and individuals living and working in long-term care facilities, according to a plan the state submitted last month. But challenges remain. The Pfizer vaccine must be administered in two doses, several weeks apart. The vaccine must also be kept at extra-low temperatures. Five Maine hospitals have requisite freezers, but distribution to rural areas could be difficult.
State officials are thinking creatively, considering backup generators to power freezers in the event of outages and using fire stations or car washes as drive-through immunization facilities because they are heated and would be suitable for workers in protective gear, Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Nirav Shah told The Washington Post.
As those plans are being worked out, a group opposed to mandated vaccines is rising again to challenge a flu shot requirement for healthcare workers. The Maine CDC has proposed that frontline workers be required to get immunized for the flu this season. It is part of a larger effort to promote vaccination and prevent confusion over whether someone has the coronavirus — which shares symptoms with the flu — and overloading the health care system.
The group Mainers for Health and Parental Rights, who led the charge this spring to repeal Maine’s stricter vaccination laws for public school children — and lost overwhelmingly — is criticizing the rule change. Expect them to be vocal today during a public comment session scheduled for 9 a.m. Follow it by signing in at this link.
The Maine politics top 3
— “Maine’s 2nd District could get more blue after 2021,” Jessica Piper, Bangor Daily News: “The more conservative 2nd Congressional District has lost population over the past decade while the reliably liberal 1st District has grown. Population estimates from 2018 suggest roughly 15,000 people in the 1st District could be shifted to the 2nd District when new maps are drawn. It is likely to make the latter swing district held by Rep. Jared Golden, a Democrat, slightly more liberal.”
— “The hurdles ahead in 2021 for Maine’s stalled tribal sovereignty bid,” Caitlin Andrews, BDN: “The complex issue of sovereignty would be revived in what promises to be one of the more high-stakes legislative sessions in state history in early 2021. Lawmakers will be facing an estimated $1.4 billion shortfall over the next three years. Racial disparities around the coronavirus, health and incarceration are also likely to drive policy conversations.”
— “Susan Collins: Trump ‘wrong’ to pressure GOP officials over election results,” Piper, BDN: “‘The right way is to compile the evidence and mount legal challenges in our courts. The wrong way is to attempt to pressure state election officials,’ Collins said after President Donald Trump criticized Georgia election officials and met with Michigan lawmakers after encouraging Republican canvasser in the Detroit area to delay results. ‘That undermines the public’s faith in our election results without evidence and court rulings to support the allegations.’
While the president still refuses to concede, time is running out for him to challenge results in court as the president-elect moves forward. Key states are set to certify their election results within the next two weeks. President-elect Joe Biden is expected to announce his first Cabinet picks Tuesday despite the roadblocks in his transition. He has already picked Tony Blinken, a longtime aide, as his nominee to be secretary of state, Bloomberg reported on Sunday.
Jake Sullivan, who was an aide to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, will be Biden’s national security adviser while career diplomat Linda Thomas-Greenfield will be nominated to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
Today’s Daily Brief was written by Caitlin Andrews and Jessica Piper and edited by Michael Shepherd. If you’re reading this on the BDN’s website or were forwarded it, email email@example.com (we’re setting up a new subscriber page soon) to subscribe to it via email.
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