PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Federal CARES Act money will pay for improvements to the passenger rail system that connects Maine to Boston.

The $2.1 million is slated for the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority, which operates the Downeaster. The Downeaster runs from Boston to Brunswick daily and is running at limited capacity because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The money will help the Downeaster make improvements that enhance safety, efficiency and reliability, said Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, who is the chair of the transportation appropriations subcommittee. She said the Downeaster is critical for Maine's economic recovery from the pandemic because of its role “providing good jobs, supporting local vendors of goods and services, and strengthening our tourism industry.”

Maine has had more than 4,900 cases of the virus since the beginning of the pandemic, which has disrupted numerous industries in the state.

In other news related to the coronavirus pandemic in Maine:

NEW CASES

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported 18 new cases of the virus in the state on Tuesday.

The number of people who have tested positive in Maine stands at 4,918 while the number of patients who have died in Maine is 137, the Maine CDC reported.

The seven-day average for new cases per day was about 31, which was about seven more than it was a week ago.

The illness results in mild or moderate symptoms in most people, but severe symptoms are more likely in the elderly or those with existing health problems.

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TESTING ABOVE AVERAGE

Maine has been more aggressive about testing residents for the coronavirus than the nation at large, Maine CDC director Dr. Nirav Shah said on Tuesday. Maine's testing rate is 358 people per 100,000, Shah said. That's about 58% more than the national average, he said.

Shah said Maine's hospitalization rate is also less than the national average. Maine's hospitalization rate is less than one person per 100,000 while the national rate is 10 per 100,000, he said.