Community Development

Mapping COVID-19 in Maine

Maine CDC recently released data describing COVID-19 infections across the state. As we negotiate this health crisis, understanding data and the implications for our region is essential to ensure an effective response. We have some observations and takeaways.

There are obvious clusters in cities and towns with large populations. That observation shouldn’t surprise anybody, especially considering the fact that much of Maine’s population is concentrated in the south and coast. What is more compelling is a comparison of the total number of cases to the overall population. The below map shows cases per population, where a higher value represents a high incidence of COVID-19. Again, some places are not surprising… however, there are a few that really stand out. Medway*, Mattawamkeag*, and Stacyville* in northern Penobscot County; Saint Francis in Aroostook County; and Stratton*, Weld*, and Phillips in Franklin County. These are all rural areas with small populations (0.42% of state population), making the relatively high number of cases notable (between 1.0% and 1.9% of total cases).

A few important things to know about this data:

  • These reflect cumulative cases, from the first reported case until June 2nd;
  • Cases are aggregated into zip code geographies which are often problematic and inconsistent;
  • Privacy concerns require that, in places where the population or reported cases are too few, data either has to be suppressed or generalized;
  • Low population counts reduce statistical reliability of any subsequent analysis.

Considering what we can learn from the data and its inherent limitations, this map clearly illustrates that Maine’s rural spaces face similar risk from COVID-19 as more urban and suburban spaces. Being clear about how that risk works and where interventions occur is a lesson for this and other statewide issues.

*These locations are verified hotspots identified using case per population rates in a Getis-Ord Gi* analysis with applied FDR.

Regional Planning

Our regional approach to economic development planning takes stock of assets across Penobscot, Piscataquis, Hancock, and Waldo Counties, and makes plans for the future that are locally-driven.

The US Economic Development Administration designated EMDC to be responsible for the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS), which engages community leaders and representatives of the private sector to create a holistic plan for our region.

Expanding Broadband Capacity

We work with communities to increase access to broadband in Eastern Maine. While fiber and other telecom technology infrastructure exists in parts of the region, more availability, increased speeds, and adoption for small businesses, entrepreneurs, communities, and residents is needed. EMDC partners with providers to map current assets and plan for expanded capacity, including securing funds for the planning and implementation process.

Revitalizing Existing Properties

Through the Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfields program, EMDC works with communities to clean up and reinvest in properties that may pose a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant risk. By completing assessments and cleaning up these Brownfields, communities reinvest in these properties, leading to further revitalization.

Local Planning

We assist communities with the development of comprehensive plans, a tool for municipalities to gather ideas about the future of their community and to formulate actions to achieve that vision. A comprehensive plan addresses issues of land use, government administration, capital improvement, and economic development. To secure certain state grants, municipalities must have a locally-adopted and state-deemed consistent comprehensive plan. The plan provides communities with direction that municipal officials can follow to ensure proper growth and development.

Technical Assistance

We serve as a resource, providing information on: subdivisions, land use, comprehensive planning, and business growth strategies.

Transportation Planning

State and federal funding can be leveraged to revive our systems and provide reliable transportation to our communities. We offer strategic services to help you plan transportation upgrades, including:

  • Providing traffic counts and crash data
  • Serving as a liaison between a town and the Maine DOT
  • Assessing of the physical safety of roadways
  • Coordinating public outreach surveys and events

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