Maine is taking action on the COVID19 (Corona Virus) Pandemic
Updated: Mar 24, 2020
This week, the Maine House of Representatives and the Maine Senate voted to confer emergency powers to the governor. While I have always had a strong commitment to local control, the Coronavirus crisis has risen to the occasion for emergency powers to be granted on a centralized basis. The crisis is too serious to allow for a piecemeal approach. Lives are at stake. I take your safety seriously. Therefore, to keep you better informed, I want you to know we took the following actions this week which will help you in your daily lives as we work together to confront this crisis. Part A allowed the Governor with the Commissioner of Education to waive school attendance requiremen
ts and allow attendance to be met through nontraditional learning. Schools will also continue to provide nutrition services to students with schools being closed; Part B revised unemployment insurance eligibility allowing any individual who takes either a voluntary or mandated leave of absence standard unemployment benefits; Part C allowed doctors the expanded use of videoconference and “telehealth” to conduct meetings until 12/31/20; Part D establishes that municipal budget meetings may be delayed and a continuing resolution of the prior year’s budget would take place; Part E authorizes schools boards to delay budget meetings and a continuing resolution of their prior year’s budget would take place; Part F affects licenses and registrations, such as for motor vehicles, ATVs, watercraft and dogs issued by municipalities. Expire or expiring registrations and licenses would extend until 30 days after the end of the state of emergency is called. Part G a
mends the Freedom of Access Act to allow entities to conduct a public proceeding through telephone, video, or
other electronic means. Part H provides the Governor additional powers under the Maine Emergency Management Act including: · Suspending the termination of residential and water services for up to 60 days after the state of emergency is terminated
· Suspending requirements for professional licensing Part I establishes the Loan Guarantee Program administered by the Finance Authority of Maine, providing easier access to no-interest loans for Maine residents - including self-employed residents who experience a reduction in income due to the State of Emergency. Under the program, residents affected are eligible for up to 3 loans, each equal to their monthly after-tax pay, up to $5,000. Repayment is due starting 90 days after the State of Emergency. Interest may not be charged or accrued on the loan during that period. Part J delays the plastic bag ban until January 15, 2021.
Part K authorizes DHHS to require out the number of available beds in each hospital's facility. Part L authorizes the Governor, only for the election scheduled for June 9, 2020, to take any reasonable administrative actions the Governor considers necessary for protecting public health for voting by all residents in the state. The Legislature also passed the Supplemental Budget, which was slimmed down and refocused to fund programs relating to mitigate the impact of COVID-19, as well as appropriately allocate more money to the State’s Rainy Day Fund. $1,000,000 was budgeted for the Maine CDC to expand capacity at the State Lab to recruit and retain health care personnel including epidemiologists and nurses. $17,400,000 was added to the Budget Stabilization Fund for future related expenses. News is changing co
nstantly, and I will try to keep you updated as I possibly can. The Maine Center for Disease Control is updating the press daily and you can learn more about what the Department of Health &
Human Services is doing on their website[https://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/infectious-disease/epi/airborne/coronavirus.shtml]. This is an odd time and if you feel that you are in a safe and healthy place, make sure to get in touch with others that may need the help. Talk with your neighbors, give someone who might not have anyone a call. If you have any questions, my staff is working remotely and maintaining diligent attention to any changes and updates.
Federal Small Business Economic Injury Loans Small businesses that have been affected by the Coronavirus’ impact on the economy, they can apply for a low-interest economic injury disaster loan from the Federal Small Business Administration by going to SBA.gov/disaster or by calling (800) 659-2955. Food Pantries In Need of Donations With many households under financial duress, our community’s food pantries are in desperate need for donations. Please consider donating anything you can spare immediately at this time, and do know that if you ever need help yourself they are open to everyone who needs it. What are the Symptoms? According to the Maine CDC, “Symptoms of COVID-19 may include fever, coughing, difficulty breathing or a sore throat with some patients. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure. Most patients experience mild symptoms and can recuperate at home, but others, particularly those with underlying medical conditions, may experience more severe respiratory illness.” What should I do if I have symptoms? Call ahead to a health care professional if you develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough or difficulty breathing. Tell your health care professional about any recent travel or contact with other COVID-19 cases. Your healthcare professional will work with Maine CDC to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19. More information is available on the U.S. CDC's What You Should Know page [https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/steps-when-sick.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fabout%2Fsteps-when-sick.html]. How can I help to prevent the spread? There are simple steps you can take to reduce the possible spread of COVID-19 and other illnesses such as influenza and the common cold.
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer
Avoid close contact with people who are sick
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
Stay home while you're sick and avoid close contact with others
*Currently there is no vaccine available to prevent the spread of COVID-19.