Good morning from Augusta. The federal government is set to run out of money by day’s end without an agreement on a spending bill. Here’s your soundtrack.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “He was what you’d call a ‘five tools’ player,” author Ed Rice said of the Penobscot Nation’s Louis Sockalexis, who played for the franchise now known as the Cleveland Indians, which committed to change its name earlier this week. “Kind of like a Willie Mays or a Mickey Mantle. He was just as apt to hit a home run as he was to steal a base.”
What we’re watching today
An unexpected reduction in a new round of vaccines coming to Maine and other states shows how challenging it can be to plan those efforts. News dropped on Thursday that Maine and other states would be receiving 40 percent fewer doses of a Pfizer vaccine than it had expected next week. It would slow efforts to vaccinate long-term care facility residents here.
The reasoning for the delay was not immediately clear. Federal officials in charge of Operation Warp Speed said the allocation may be shipped over a few days — not one — but Pfizer said they have produced and shipped all the vaccines the federal government has asked for.
Those differences can seriously disrupt the planning process — and there is not much Maine can do about it. Maine’s delegation has pushed for more transparency into how major changes in the projection process occur after federal projections cut the state’s expected allocation of doses by two-thirds. The state’s control over its vaccination plan is not uniform.
While it has control over where initial doses can go, private pharmacy chains such as CVS Pharmacy and Walgreens are contracted by the federal government to do vaccinations at long-term care facilities and nursing homes. Because vaccines are in such short supply, any changes in the process can have ripple effects into what the state can manage.
Maine officials acknowledged their helplessness Thursday night. Gov. Janet Mills called the reduced shipment “frustrating” while acknowledging the distribution process is a “massive logistical feat.” Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Nirav Shah has called for the government to publish allocation plans publicly to avoid confusion.
The Maine politics top 3
— “Warden temporarily loses license for groping woman during Bangor concert,” Callie Ferguson, Bangor Daily News: “[Game warden Jeremy] Judd neither admitted to nor denied inappropriately touching the woman, but he acknowledged that the academy had enough evidence to prove he assaulted the woman if the parties went to a civil hearing on the matter, according to the disciplinary agreement. He admitted to the rest of the academy’s timeline of events, including that he was intoxicated and argumentative with the Bangor officers who dealt with him.”
The Bangor Daily News has been investigating how county law enforcement is held accountable. Read the series here.
— “Janet Mills may get coronavirus vaccine in public but is waiting to find her place in line,” Caitlin Andrews, BDN: “Leaders around the country have said they would be willing to be vaccinated live in order to build trust in the vaccine. But where many of them fall within the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines — which Maine is largely following — is not immediately clear.”
Leaders are getting the vaccine in public to reassure skeptics who seem to comprise a large share of the U.S. population. If she gets the vaccine in public, Mills would join Vice President Mike Pence, who got the shot publicly on Friday morning, and President-elect Joe Biden, who plans to get it next week on the recommendation of Dr. Anthony Fauci. Governors including Jim Justice of West Virginia have also gotten it, though others are sensitive to the appearance of jumping in line as health care workers and older people are vaccinated first.
Any move like this will come with some criticism, but the idea is to reassure skeptics that the vaccine is safe and effective, as federal reviews have found. This skepticism is a real problem, with 21 percent of Americans surveyed in November by the Pew Research Center saying they do not intend to be vaccinated and more information was unlikely to change their mind.
— “Maine regulator can get financial records from anti-CMP corridor group, judge rules,” Andrews, BDN: “Stop the Corridor opposed the investigation, which would require it to reveal donors to the commission even as Maine Ethics Commission staff have insisted that such information would be kept private during the investigation. Representatives have said the group is looking to influence the corridor’s fate through the permitting process and not the ballot box.”
Today’s Daily Brief was written by Caitlin Andrews and Michael Shepherd. If you’re reading this on the BDN’s website or were forwarded it, you can sign up to have it delivered to your inbox every weekday morning here.
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