The Portland City Council will meet remotely Monday because of a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases in Maine in recent weeks.

The city announced the move to a remote meeting in a news release Thursday, basing the decision on Cumberland County’s designation as an area of high risk by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week.

The CDC updated its data Thursday afternoon, after the city announced the remote meeting, moving Cumberland into the moderate risk category. A city spokesperson said the meeting will still be held remotely and officials hope to get back to a hybrid format for the June 6 meeting.

Risk levels are determined by case counts, hospital admissions and the percentage of staffed inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients. In areas of moderate risk, the CDC recommends that at-risk people wear a mask indoors.

The council returned to holding in-person meetings for the first time in two years at the end of March. It has also continued to allow for remote participation at each meeting and has adopted a policy allowing for remote-only meetings to continue as needed.

On Thursday, Maine reported 1,001 new cases of COVID-19 and two additional deaths. The seven-day average is now 694 new cases per day and has more than doubled in the past two weeks.

Maine continues to have one of the highest infection rates in the country, with 347 new cases per 100,000 residents over the past seven days. The national average is 179 cases per 100,000 people.

The council will be holding a second public hearing on the proposed school budget Monday and is expected to vote on the school budget, which would then go to a voter referendum June 14. It also will hold a first public hearing on the proposed municipal budget.

The meeting is at 5 p.m. and can be accessed via Zoom.


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