PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Unemployment claims remained high in Maine during the early part of the new year.

The Maine Department of Labor reported about 3,700 initial claims for state unemployment insurance during the week that ended Jan. 9. That figure is 200 less than the previous week, but 1,000 more than the week before that.

The labor department reported a total of 4,150 people filed an initial claim or reopened an unemployment claim. That figure is also higher than the number from the last full week of 2020.

Labor officials said the coronavirus pandemic is continuing to have an impact on the job market in the state.

In other pandemic news in Maine:



The latest average positivity rate in Maine is 6.38%. 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 6.85% on Dec. 30 to 6.38% on Jan. 13.

Public health authorities in Maine have reported more than 31,000 cases of the coronavirus and 461 deaths since the start of the pandemic.



Catholic Charities Maine plans to distribute tens of thousands of masks to help protect residents from the coronavirus pandemic.

The organization said Wednesday it has received 73,000 KN95 masks from Catholic Charities USA and will distribute them in Maine. KN95 masks are one of many kinds of facial coverings residents are using to try to prevent spread of the coronavirus.

Catholic Charities Maine Chief Executive Officer Steve Letourneau said the organization is using partnerships with local organizations and contacts in communities "to get these out to as many folks as possible, as soon as possible.”

Catholic Charities said it will work to get masks to immigrant communities and other marginalized groups.