Hello from Augusta, where we are already seeing rain and will see a lot more with the arrival of Tropical Storm Elsa in Maine today. Here is your soundtrack.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Shakespeare was written for ordinary people, and people don’t understand it anymore, because it seems so mysterious and out of place to us now,” playwright Lamoine said. Brent Hutchins, who adapted scenes from the bards to Maine locations and the vernacular. “Bringing it back to that original feeling is a really fun thing to do. “
What we watch today
Manufacturers in Maine who have been instrumental in producing tools to respond to COVID-19 are facing declining demand. Abbott Laboratories, which makes medical devices including COVID-19 test kits, is laying off more than 300 workers at Westbrook, the company confirmed yesterday. Meanwhile, Puritan Medical Products has put 180 workers on leave at one of its Pittsfield sites, which opened last year to make the swabs needed for COVID-19 testing.
Both companies cited declining interest in their products as vaccines replaced testing as the primary tool in the fight against COVID-19. The number of COVID-19 tests performed daily in the United States has risen from 2 million in January to around 500,000 a day now, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
Puritan and Abbott still have significant presences in Maine and their work is far from over. Swab maker Guilford plans to bring back workers next month after finalizing new orders with the U.S. government and expects long-term demand after $ 400 million in federal investments fueled a ramp-up massive, including the Pittsfield plant and another in Tennessee opening this year. Abbott was looking for as many as 2,000 workers to make test kits here last year.
It’s not just big business. Manufacturers in Maine who adapted last year to produce pandemic-related products such as protective gear have been forced to quickly turn back the clock in recent months as demand for face coverings and products similar has dried up.
One side effect was layoffs in manufacturing sectors, although manufacturing jobs overall have increased in recent months. From May, the most recent data available, there were about 52,100 people employed in manufacturing in Maine when the economy reopened, up from 49,000 in May of last year and just below the 2019 numbers.
Maine’s top 3 politics
– “The men who began to stand on the Mass. Highway had unregistered Maine license plates”, Lia russell, Bangor Daily News: “This is the second Maine connection to emerge for the group, some of whose members have claimed to be foreign nationals subject to the terms of an 18th century treaty between Morocco and the United States”
– “Portland Rent Control Ordinance May Stand, Rules Rules”, Robbie feinberg, Maine Public: “The ordinance passed in November limits how often rents can be increased in the city – and by how much.” Owners must also present an “appropriate justification” for any increase. In January, the Southern Maine Landlord Association filed a lawsuit to block the order, arguing it is illegal and violates due process.
This is the second decision this week confirming a referendum approved by voters in Portland last fall. The Maine High Court ruled in favor of a ballot question that calls on frontline workers to receive a risk premium during states of emergency, but said the law as written was not not supposed to come into force in 2022.
– “Maine to get $ 20 million in Opioid Settlement from Purdue Pharma”, Matt berg, BDN: “The lawsuit was brought to punish the company’s role in promoting OxyContin, exacerbating the opioid crisis, which has particularly hit Maine with 502 overdose deaths last year, the death toll highest ever. Across the country, approximately 500,000 people have died of opioid overdoses since 1999. ”
Today’s Daily Brief was written by Jessica Piper and Michael Shepherd. If you are reading this on the BDN website or if you have uploaded it, you can sign up to receive it in your inbox every morning of the week. here.