PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said the Biden administration’s coronavirus relief package needs to be refined before she can sign on to it.
Collins and U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, led a conference call for lawmakers with National Economic Council Director Brian Deese. Collins said late Sunday that she has concerns about the $1.9 trillion plan.
“While I support prompt additional funding for vaccine production, distribution, and vaccinators, and for testing, it seems premature to be considering a package of this size and scope,” Collins said.
Collins also said she’s not clear on how the administration came up with the $1.9 trillion figure. She said she wants lawmakers to “get together to determine if we can come up with a more targeted package that would address unmet needs that we are experiencing now as we fight this persistent pandemic.”
Collins, a moderate Republican, could cast key votes on coronavirus relief in the evenly divided U.S. Senate controlled by Democrats.
In other pandemic news in Maine:
The latest average positivity rate in Maine is 4.36%. State health departments are calculating positivity rate differently across the country, but for Maine the AP calculates the rate by dividing new cases by test specimens using data from The COVID Tracking Project.
The seven-day rolling average of the positivity rate in Maine did not increase over the past two weeks, going from 6.09% on Jan. 10 to 4.36% on Jan. 24.
The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention has reported more than 37,000 positive cases and 547 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
The University of Maine announced on Monday that its sports teams won’t compete on the road or on campus through at least Feb. 4. The university said in a statement that “there are positive COVID-19 cases in UMaine athletics, and all health and safety protocols are in place, including contract tracing, quarantining and isolating.”
The university declined to release details about the positive cases, citing the privacy of athletes and employees. It said officials will decide what to do next on Feb. 4.
One of the largest health organizations in Maine has launched a coronavirus vaccine hotline for people who are 70 years of age or older.
Northern Light Health said new appointments will be available for scheduling on Monday afternoon. It said in a statement the phone line “is not a permanent call center but ensures all community members have access to vaccination scheduling while we work to stand up our updated scheduling system.”
The hotline number is 207-204-8551.
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