MPR Special Issue on Impacts of COVID-19 Pandemic, Vol. 30, No. 2

Introduction

Guest Editors Dora Anne Mills and Amanda Rector, Executive Editor Linda Silka, and Editor Barbara Harrity describe the process of creating this special issue on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in Maine and briefly outline the scope of the articles included in the issue.

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(Un)precedented: Reflecting on the Early Lessons of the COVID-19 Pandemic

by Amanda Rector

State Economist Amanda Rector reflects on her experience in the early days of the pandemic as she scrambled to find data to help state policymakers navigate this unprecedented event.

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Articles

Looking Forward while Being Pushed Back: How Accurate Were Economic Forecasts for Maine during the Pandemic?

by Andrew Crawley and Angela Hollowell

The authors of this paper compare their initial forecasts for output, employment, and tax revenue to actual values for 2020. They found that overall Maine’s economy was more resilient than their  forecasts first predicted, with tax revenues far exceeding the initial projections. However, when the numbers are explored further it becomes clear that federal funds were a critical lifeline during turbulent times, and without this support, the damage to Maine would have been far more severe.

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The Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Maine’s Labor Market and Workforce

by Mark McInerney and Erin Fenton

This article uses a variety of data sources to examine the pandemic’s impact on the labor market in Maine, first by putting it in the context of past recessions, then by assessing telework suitability across occupations, and finally by exploring the differential job losses that occurred during the pandemic by sector and by gender and educational attainment.

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Effect of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Labor Market in 2020

by Philip Trostel

This article takes an in-depth look at the disruption of the labor market caused by the COVID-19 pandemic both nationally and in Maine. The author finds that in addition to the unprecedented spike in unemployment, there was an unprecedented decrease in labor force participation. There were also an important increase in absence from work and an important decline in average weekly hours of work among those employed.

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The Response of the Maine Food System to the Onset of COVID-19 Pandemic

by JG Malacarne, Jason Lilley, and Nancy McBrady

The authors of this article bring together data from various sources to describe the response of the Maine food system to the onset of the COVID-19 crisis. Their descriptive analysis includes the actions, concerns, and adaptations of food producers, consumers, and vendors as they sought to weather and adapt to a challenging situation.

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Impacts of COVID-19 on Tourism in Bar Harbor, Maine

by Todd Gabe

This paper examines the effects of COVID-19 on tourism in Bar Harbor, Maine. The analysis considers four channels by which the pandemic affected Bar Harbor: (1) reduction in overnight visitors, (2) decrease in Acadia National Park users, (3) cancellation of the 2020 cruise ship season, and (4) a national effect related to trends in overall US restaurant sales.

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Exploring COVID-19 Impacts on Maine Tourism Using an Online Photo-Sharing Site

by Tracy Michaud, Colleen Metcalf, and Matthew Bampton

This article explores the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on travel patterns and visitor spending within Maine using data from the social media site Flickr. The authors compared the geographic information attached to Flickr photo posts in Maine before and after March 2020 when pandemic travel restrictions began to be implemented.

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Municipal Capacity to Respond to COVID-19: Implications for Improving Community Resilience in Maine

by Vanessa R. Levesque, Eileen Sylvan Johnson, and Kathleen Bell

The authors of this article explore how 50 Maine municipalities communicated their response to COVID-19 in the earliest stages of the pandemic. The study answers two questions: (1) What information and resources did Maine municipalities communicate about COVID-19? and (2) What characterizes a more robust communication response?

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Building Youth Resiliency and Aspirations During a Crisis: Lessons Learned from Maine’s Aspirations Incubator During the COVID-19 Pandemic

by Sarah Krichels Goan, Elora Way, Erin Cinelli, and Don Carpenter

This paper highlights the innovative responses undertaken by the Aspirations Incubator programs during the pandemic and shares critical aspects of the AI model that made these responses successful.

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Community Support for Low-Income Elementary School Students with a Winter Gear Drive under COVID 19 Constraints

by Paige Wentworth and Lois-Ann Kuntz

This paper describes a university student’s project collecting and distributing winter gear in Washington County, Maine, a county with one of Maine’s highest rates of childhood poverty. The article underscores the need for policies supporting children in poverty.

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Inequality and Workforce Development in Maine in the Post-COVID-19 Environment

by Thomas Remington

The author describes how the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated inequalities of income and opportunity. He argues that Maine can take advantage of the COVID-19 crisis to restructure the institutional environment in ways that will align the incentives of the public and private sectors and will achieve these goals

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Commentaries

Missteps in Managing the COVID-19 Crisis

by Joseph McDonnell

This paper examines missteps in managing the COVID-19 crisis by exploring six stages in crisis management: (1) preventing the crisis, (2) planning for the crisis, (3) recognizing the crisis, (4) containing the crisis, (5) returning the society to normal or noncrisis state, and (6) learning from the crisis. The paper uncovers missteps to aid society to better prepare for the next crisis.

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Science in Maine: Responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic

by Niles Parker and Kate Dickerson

The authors discuss the increased recognition by policymakers and the general public of the importance of science in our lives and examine the need for a science center or museum for the state of Maine.

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by Katie Rybakova, and Jeremy Pare
The authors share their perspectives on how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected their teaching experiences. They suggest ways to use the pandemic-induced changes in higher education to improve student experiences and outcomes.

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by Frank O’Hara

Using Daniel Dafoe’s Journal of the Plague Year, Frank O’Hara examines the experience of the plague, the reactions of people, and changes to social cohesion and compares the current COVID-19 pandemic. These issues get at basic human reactions to crisis, and the similarities and differences between the 17th and 21st centuries are instructive.

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by David Vail

In previous Maine Policy Review essays, the author assessed the chronic economic distress facing Maine’s rim counties. His forecast for “more of the same” has been largely borne out by facts on the ground. In this commentary, however, from the end of 2021, he describes potential new opportunities in the coming decade, based on a mix of positive external forces and creative Maine responses.

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by Rob Brown

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Maine was already on the leading edge of what was termed the “silver tsunami,” the looming retirement of aging business owners with no real plan for how to exit their businesses. In this commentary, Rob Brown examines the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on this issue and argues that helping businesses transition to employee ownership will be good for workers, owners, and Maine’s economy in general.

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by Laura Fairman

Author Laura Fairman argues that state policymakers should reconsider their economic development strategy in light of remote work trends. Implementing a grant-making initiative to attract new residents would add to the tools currently targeted at strengthening and growing Maine’s workforce.

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by Stefano Tijerina

Part of a blog he published on the Bangor Daily News website, in this commentary Stefano Tijerino describes the possible changes to international trade and Maine’s economy in the postpandemic world. From his perspective, “the way life should be” is about to be revised and redefined.

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by Lisa Miller and Deborah Deatrick

According to Lisa Miller and Deborah Deatrick, everyone everywhere was unprepared for a disruption of the magnitude caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Early efforts by government public health agencies stumbled, revealing system weaknesses from decades of neglect and underfunding. They go on to describe the efforts of Maine public health advocates to form the Maine Alliance to Health and Prosperity and outline the Alliance’s plans for the future.

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