Passengers prepare to board the Machigonne II ferry Tuesday for service to Peaks Island. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Maine reported 22 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and no additional deaths.

The new case total is an uptick from the six reported Tuesday, a daily fluctuation that has been typical of new case reports over the past week. The seven-day daily case average Wednesday was 13.1, compared to about 24 in late July.

Since the pandemic began, Maine has reported 4,070 cases of COVID-19 and 126 deaths. Current hospitalizations remain low, with nine people hospitalized and four in intensive care.

Dr. Nirav Shah, Maine CDC director, said during the “Maine Calling” public radio show Tuesday that Maine’s low case numbers are a good sign, but with the virus raging in other states and increasing in nearby states like Massachusetts, Maine must stick with measures to curb transmission.

The numbers are favorable because “Maine people have believed in science with respect to COVID-19 and have taken to heart the recommendations” such as wearing masks, avoiding crowds and keeping at least 6 feet away from others.

Maine is granting $13 million in federal funds to 132 cities and towns, including Bethel, which introduced the “masked moose” character, as part of public education campaigns on best practices for COVID-19 health and safety.

Loretta Powers, Bethel town manager, said the town received $130,000 for the yet-to-be-named moose, which includes an artistic rendering by area resident Brent Batchelder. Powers said local business owners Amy Halsted and Sara Hemeon came up with the idea.

The masked moose will be on everything from posters at local businesses to hand sanitizer bottles. Later, a person will dress up in a masked moose costume to make appearances at local schools, she said.

“We wanted it to be fun and when people come to Bethel, they always want to see a moose. We are known for our moose,” Powers said.

Even before the most recent education campaigns get underway, Maine has been among the best states at keeping the infection rate low.

Maine has the second-lowest infection rate in the country, at 0.9 cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days, according to the Harvard Global Health Institute. Only Vermont has a lower rate at 0.8 cases per 100,000. States with high rates, including many in the South and West, are at 20 cases per 100,000 or higher.

One outbreak under investigation is at the Pine Point Center assisted living facility in Scarborough, where case numbers have grown from four last week to nine through Tuesday, the Maine CDC said.

Gov. Janet Mills, also appearing on “Maine Calling,” said “there’s no easy answers” on how to handle the virus, and many issues remain, such as details on reopening schools. Many Maine schools have adopted hybrid reopening plans, where students attend school part of the week and learn from home the rest. Still unclear is what is happening with extra-curricular activities and sports.

As the summer tourist season starts winding down, Mills was asked why Massachusetts is among states from which visitors to Maine must quarantine for two weeks or produce a negative test within 72 hours prior to arriving.

Mills said Massachusetts is seeing a spike in cases, so it remains on the list, but she believes the restrictions are reasonable.

“I welcome people from Massachusetts and other states, but all we are asking is to get a test 72 hours prior to coming here,” Mills said. “I don’t think it’s too much to ask.”

Visitors from New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are not required to quarantine or get a test, but Massachusetts, Rhode Island and all other states are required to follow the tourism rules. The state based its exemptions on infection rates and other factors.

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