In Lobster-Town U.S.A., There’s No Covid-19 but Plenty of Pain

Blaine Olsen, a lifelong lobsterman, was navigating his 30-foot boat off the coast of Stonington, Maine, when his sternman, who’s also his wife, yelled above the diesel engine’s din about the pittance the local cooperative was paying harvesters. He shot Ginny a doleful stare for a good five seconds.

“Holy sh-t, man,” he said. “It costs us $600 a day to go out.” The dock price — $2.25 a pound for soft-shell lobsters — was half what it was a year ago, making it virtually impossible to earn a profit.

The novel coronavirus has barely touched the public health of this corner of rural Down East Maine, with Hancock County reporting just 16 cases and one death as of June 30. Its economic health is another matter: The fallout from Covid-19 threatens a historically bad year for the Olsens and the rest of the state’s lobster industry.

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