PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The state of Maine announced Thursday that it's extending the state tax deadline and providing additional payments to support nursing facilities that are working on infection control and visitor screening amid the rise in coronavirus cases.

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services said nursing facilities can ask for extra reimbursements for costs such as supplies and personal protective equipment and staffing beyond normal levels.

Democratic Gov. Janet Mills said the move is important because of the threat coronavirus presents to older residents. “This new measure will financially support nursing facilities as they implement additional protections to ensure the health and safety of those they serve,” Mills said.

Mills also pushed the tax deadline from April 15 to July 15 to conform with the revised federal deadline.

“Aligning Maine’s tax filing and payment deadlines with the federal government and waiving late fees and interest payments will ease the number of things that Maine businesses and taxpayers have to think about during this difficult time,” said Kristen Figueroa, commissioner of the Department of Administrative and Financial Services.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.

There have been more than 150 cases of the virus in Maine.



Unemployment claims rose dramatically in Maine, like they did elsewhere in the country. The Maine Department of Labor said 21,459 initial claims were filed during the week of March 15-21, compared to 634 the previous week. It was the highest weekly total on record.



Maine is the only state in the country with a significant fishery for baby eels, which are called elvers. The eels are often worth more than $2,000 per pound and the harvest takes place in rivers and streams every spring. Maine marine resources commissioner Patrick Keliher delayed the start of this year's fishery, scheduled to start March 22, due to the virus.

Keliher said Thursday new safety measures will allow the fishing to begin on March 30. He said the fishery will be closed if participants don't follow safety protocols.



Acadia National Park is effectively shutting down in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The state also announced it was closing numerous coastal state parks, including Ferry Beach State Park, and beaches due to overcrowding.