Follow this timeline to see the actions taken by the Mills administration in response to COVID-19. Actions will be updated regularly.
December 2019-March 2
The Maine CDC monitors an outbreak of the novel Coronavirus, COVID-19 in Wuhan, China and dedicates 30 staff members to focus on preparing for cases in Maine. Staff begin to update safety protocols and upgrade the state lab so that testing for COVID-19 could be performed in Maine. Maine CDC continues working closely with hospitals, medical providers, EMS, and other partners to prepare for and respond to COVID-19.
Governor Mills convened a Coronavirus Response Team headed by Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah and consisting of commissioners of the Departments of Health and Human Services; Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management; Public Safety; Education; Corrections; Labor; Transportation; and Administrative and Financial Affairs.
Maine records its first positive presumptive case of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Governor Mills 1) proclaimed an insurance emergency to improve access to care and require private health insurance plans to cover costs related to coronavirus testing; 2) suspended all non-essential out-of-state work travel by State employees; and 3) recommended, on the advice of Maine CDC, that non-essential large, indoor gatherings of 250 attendees or more be postponed in order to delay a potential coronavirus outbreak and substantially reduce its spread.
Governor Mills: 1) requested that the Small Business Administration (SBA) provide economic support loans to Maine small businesses in order to help them overcome any temporary loss of revenue (request approved March 16, Maine was one of the first states nationwide to receive approval) 2) submitted emergency legislation that temporarily revises eligibility for unemployment insurance to cover individuals whose employment has been impacted by COVID-19 and waive the one week waiting period.
Governor Mills declared a Civil State of Emergency, recommended 1) ending classroom instruction in all public schools as soon as reasonably practical; 2) postponing all non-urgent medical procedures, elective surgeries, and appointments at hospitals and health care providers across the state until further notice; 3) restricting visitors and all non-essential health care personnel to long-term care facilities except for certain compassionate care situations such as end of life until further notice; 4) postponing all events with 50 or more people all gatherings of more than 10 that include individuals who are at higher risk for severe illness, such as seniors, until further notice.
Governor Mills called for the statewide cancellation of Saint Patrick’s events to prevent the gathering of large crowds and further encouraged social distancing measures.
Governor Mills reached a bipartisan agreement with legislative leaders on a revised supplemental budget proposal that protects the health and well-being of Maine people.
Governor Mills issued a Declaration of Abnormal Market Disruption. The declaration, drafted in close consultation with Attorney General Aaron M. Frey, prohibits certain necessities from being sold at unconscionable prices.
Governor Mills announced a package of emergency measures to respond to COVID-19 which were approved unanimously by the Legislature and signed by the Governor. The measures grant Governor Mills access to at least $11 million in State funding to respond to COVID-19, expand authorities of State and local officials to allow them greater flexibility to respond to the virus, and provide support to Maine workers impacted by the virus.
Governor Mills issued an Executive Order mandating that all restaurants and bars statewide close to dine-in customers effective March 18, 2020 at 6:00 p.m. for a period of 14 days until midnight, March 31, 2020. Take-out, delivery, and drive-through options can continue. In her order, the Governor also prohibited all gatherings of more than 10 people until further notice, mandating the latest U.S. CDC’s guidance on gatherings. In addition, Governor Mills strongly urged non-essential public-facing businesses, such as gyms, hair salons, theatres, casinos, shopping malls, to close their doors for the next two weeks to minimize public gatherings.
Governor Mills pressed the Federal government to provide more Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and testing supplies to the State of Maine. In a letter to Vice President Mike Pence and U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, Governor Mills requested that the Federal government expedite the release of PPE from the Strategic National Stockpile and pushed for “a steady and reliable supply” of testing materials as the outbreak intensifies.
Governor Mills convened a conference call with Maine’s Federal Delegation to discuss the State’s response to COVID-19 and the Congressional Delegation’s work in Congress to support the State’s efforts.
Governor Mills signed an Executive Order (pdf) directing all Maine schools to continue paying non-salaried employees such as education technicians, food service employees, custodians and other hourly-paid school employees for the duration of the school year.
Governor Mills suspended the inland waters fishing license requirement and opened waters to inland fishing until April 30 to encourage Maine people to enjoy the outdoors as we confront the challenges associated with COVID-19.
Governor Mills urged President Trump to marshal the resources of the federal government to support Maine’s vital fishing and seafood industries.
Governor Mills issued an Executive Order (pdf) suspending provisions of certain health care professional licensing statutes and rules to facilitate the treatment and containment of COVID-19. The order authorizes, among other measures, physicians, physician assistants and nurses who are licensed in good standing in another state to be issued an emergency Maine license valid during the state of emergency.
Governor Mills issued an Executive Order (pdf) extending compliance dates and authorizing the waiver of fees under certain motor vehicle laws until 30 days after the end of the emergency.
Governor Mills ordered all non-essential businesses and operations in Maine to close their physical locations that are public facing, meaning those that allow customer, vendor or other in-person contact. Governor Mills also strongly urged all large, essential, public-facing businesses to immediately employ strategies to reduce congestion in their stores, including limiting the number of customers in the store at any one time and enhancing curbside pick-up and delivery services.
The Mills Administration through Maine Emergency Management Agency signed agreements with the University of Maine System and the Maine Community College System to coordinate requests for assistance and the deployment of resources to assist in Maine’s response to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
Governor Mills signed an Executive Order (pdf) to bolster the health care work force and facilitate the expansion of telehealth by allowing licensed physicians, physician assistants, and nurses greater flexibility to contribute to Maine’s response during the civil state of emergency. To implement the Governor’s initiative, Superintendent of Insurance Eric Cioppa also signed an order (pdf) that requires insurance companies to provide coverage for clinically-appropriate services delivered by telephone, as well as via more commonly used apps, such as FaceTime, WhatsApp and Skype, as long as they are private.
The Department of Health and Human Services begins providing additional payments through MaineCare to support nursing facilities efforts related to infection control and visitor screening to protect workers and the residents in their care.
Governor Mills and Commissioner of the Department of Administrative and Financial Services Commissioner Kirsten Figueroa extended the deadline for Maine income tax payments from April 15, 2020 to July 15, 2020.
The Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Bureau of Parks and Lands (BPL) closed the following coastal state parks until April 8: Reid State Park, Popham Beach State Park, Fort Popham, Fort Baldwin, Kettle Cove State Park, Two Lights State Park, Crescent Beach State Park, Scarborough Beach State Park, Ferry Beach State Park, and Mackworth Island.
In response to the extraordinary generosity of Maine people, businesses, and organizations looking to help during these challenging times, Governor Mills launched a new online resource, coronavirus.maine.gov/mainehelps, to outline ways in which Maine people can support efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
Governor Mills directed Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Commissioner Judy Camuso to allow boaters to operate without a current 2020 registration and milfoil sticker until April 30, 2020. Boat registrations normally expire at the end of each calendar year.
Governor Mills signed an Executive Order allowing Maine Quality Centers (MQC) to swiftly address the changing demands in Maine’s job market due to widespread economic disruption caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Governor Mills and Commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Jeanne Lambrew announced that the Administration is accelerating pay increases for personal care workers and expanding access to meals for older Mainers who are home-bound because of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Governor Mills issued a series of substantial new mandates to protect public health and safety in the face of COVID-19, including a Stay Healthy at Home directive that requires people living in Maine to stay at home at all times unless for an essential job or an essential personal reason, such as obtaining food, medicine, health care, or other necessary purposes.
Governor Mills submitted a request through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (PDF) (FEMA) for a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration in light of the significant impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) on the State of Maine. If Governor Mills’ request for assistance is approved, Maine people may have access to additional resources that support child care, behavioral health, and legal services, among others, needed in response to the pandemic.
Governor Mills issued an Executive Order extending the State’s property tax exemption deadline.
Governor Mills issued an Executive Order mandating that travelers arriving in Maine, regardless of their state of residency, self-quarantine for 14 days to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Additionally, the Order instructs visitors not to travel to Maine if they are displaying symptoms of COVID-19 and advises them not to travel to Maine if they are traveling from cities or regions identified as COVID-19 hot spots. To deter travel, the Order also suspends lodging operations, including hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, inns, and short-term rentals such as those available through VRBO Airbnb, RV parks and campgrounds, and all public and private camping facilities as well as online reservations effective April 5, 2020 at 12:00 p.m.
Governor Mills announced that the President has approved her request for a major disaster declaration for the State of Maine, unlocking critical federal assistance for state agencies and municipalities in Maine.
Governor Mills signed an Executive Order to take additional steps to bolster the health care workforce, expand telehealth services, and temporarily alleviate certain licensing requirements, building upon the Governor’s March 20 Executive Order.
Governor Mills directed the Maine National Guard and the Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) to work with Maine’s health care systems to open two alternative care sites in Portland and Bangor as part of the State’s preparations to bolster Maine health system capacity in the face of COVID-19.
The Maine Department of Education delivered 500 wifi enabled Samsung Tab A's with a 12 month Verizon service to Piscataquis county schools, in an effort that is helping students in the area with their school work while they are engaged in remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.
To reduce in-person contact and promote physical distancing in response to COVID-19, Governor Mills signed an Executive Order allowing remote notarization.
Governor Mills signed an Executive Order moving Maine’s primary election from Tuesday, June 9, 2020 to Tuesday, July 14, 2020. The Order, which is effective immediately, also allows applications for absentee ballots to be made in writing or in person, without specifying a reason, up to and including the day of the election. It also extends the deadline for qualifying contributions under the Maine Clean Election Act to May 19, 2020.
Governor Mills directed Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew to take a series of actions to ensure that Maine people affected by Substance Use Disorder can access critical treatment and resources in the face of COVID-19, including facilitating access to medication and counseling, promoting harm reduction strategies, and accelerating financial relief for providers.
Governor Mills joined a coalition of Governors from Delaware, Illinois, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin in writing to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma to ask the Administration to reconsider its decision and take swift action to allow for a special enrollment period of at least 30 days on the federal health care exchange.
The Maine Department of Economic and Community Development launched a program to identify startups and early-stage technology companies with products to aid the COVID-19 response (pdf).
Governor Mills urged U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to coordinate a nationwide strategy to increase the amount of food available to emergency food programs and to address gaps in the food supply chain.
Governor Mills signed a proclamation extending Maine’s state of civil emergency for another thirty days through May 15, 2020.
The Maine Department of Labor announced that Mainers receiving unemployment benefits will begin to see the additional weekly $600, created by the federal CARES Act, by early next week, and that the unemployment phone line will now be open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. The amount paid in UI benefits to Maine people since March 16 is over $46 million.
As the State continues to respond to COVID-19, Governor Mills signed a proclamation extending Maine’s state of civil emergency for another thirty days through May 15, 2020. The original state of civil emergency was scheduled to expire tomorrow, April 15, 2020.
Governor Mills signed an Executive Order (PDF) to limit evictions during the COVID-19 state of emergency, strengthen penalties for landlords who try to evict tenants by unlawful means, and extend timeframes for eviction proceedings if courts reopen before the state of emergency ends.
Additionally, the Governor and MaineHousing announced a $5 million COVID-19 Rent Relief Program for households that meet certain income requirements and the Governor urged all financial institutions to help Maine homeowners and small businesses experiencing financial hardship from COVID-19 to stay in their homes and storefronts.
The Maine Department of Health and Human Services launched the FrontLine Warmline to serve health care professionals, as well as emergency medical services personnel, law enforcement, and others who are directly responding to the pandemic in Maine. The phone line is staffed by volunteer professionals activated through Maine Responds, including licensed psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, social workers, and nurse practitioners, who can help callers to deal with anxiety, irritability stress, poor sleep, grief or worry and, if needed, connect them with additional supports. The FrontLine WarmLine is available to clinicians and first responders from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., 7 days a week by calling (207) 221-8196 or 866-367-4440.
In order to provide more opportunity for both youth and adult turkey hunters and abide by current executive orders, Commissioner Judy Camuso with the support of Governor Janet Mills, opened the turkey season early, providing hunters with additional days to hunt this spring season, and suspended the requirement to register your harvested turkey.
Governor Janet Mills and Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew announced that nearly $11 million in federal funds will support access to child care for Maine’s essential workers, including health care professionals and first responders, and offer relief for child care providers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Governor Janet Mills outlined her vision for a gradual and safe reopening of Maine’s economy amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, emphasizing four principles that will guide the State’s decision-making process and inviting Maine people to offer their ideas through a new portal launched by the Department of Economic and Community Development.
Governor Janet Mills announced that the Consensus Economic Forecasting Commission (CEFC) and the Revenue Forecasting Committee (RFC) will convene off cycle to examine the economic ramifications of COVID-19 on State government’s revenues.
Governor Janet Mills presented her Administration’s plan to gradually and safely restart Maine’s economy. The plan, which comes as the State appears to be successfully flattening the curve, establishes four gradual stages of reopening, the first of which begins May 1st. The Governor also announced she will extend the State’s stay-at-home order in the form of a new “Stay Safer at Home” Executive Order.
Governor Janet Mills issues new Stay Safer at Home Executive Order. The new order continues to have Maine people stay at home with the same established exceptions for permitted activities, such as occasional grocery shopping or exercising. However, it now also allows Maine people to visit businesses or participate in activities deemed safe to open under Stage 1 of the reopening plan presented on April 28. These include barber shops and hair salons, auto dealerships and drive-in stay-in-your-vehicle religious services that follow COVID-19 Prevention Checklists. The Order is effective immediately and extends through May 31, 2020, subject to change.
Governor Janet Mills signed an Executive Order convening an Economic Recovery Committee charged with developing recommendations to mitigate the damage to Maine’s economy caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and to jumpstart a long-term economic recovery for Maine people, businesses, and organizations. The thirty-seven member Committee includes representatives of small businesses, non-profits, financial institutions, unions, municipalities, tribal and immigrant communities, hospitality and tourism industries, and educational institutions as well as a bipartisan delegation of legislative designees.
Governor Janet Mills announces her Administration has partnered with Maine-based IDEXX Laboratories, Inc. to purchase enough of the company’s recently authorized COVID-19 testing kits to more than triple the State’s testing capacity. The breakthrough will soon allow anyone in Maine suspected of having COVID-19 to receive a test.
Governor Janet Mills announced a rural reopening plan aimed at reopening certain additional businesses in rural Maine with added health and safety measures in the next two weeks. Under the plan, retail stores and restaurants will be permitted to open to in-store and some dine-in service, respectively – with enhanced safety precautions – in counties where community transmission is not present. Those counties are Aroostook, Piscataquis, Washington, Hancock, Somerset, Franklin, Oxford, Kennebec, Waldo, Knox, Lincoln, and Sagadahoc.
The Mills Administration launched a statewide campaign to promote awareness of affordable health insurance options, particularly for people whose employment or income has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Governor Janet Mills signed a proclamation extending Maine’s state of civil emergency for thirty days through June 11, 2020.
The Mills Administration announced that, effective immediately, Maine lodging providers can begin accepting future reservations for stays with an arrival date of June 1st and beyond for Maine residents and for non-residents who comply with the State’s 14-day quarantine requirement.
Governor Janet Mills and Maine Education Commissioner Pender Makin announced that the Maine Department of Education has secured internet access and devices to facilitate at home learning for 100 percent of Maine school children for whom there was a reported need.
To further protect the health and safety of essential employees in Maine, including members of the media, the Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) is providing 1900 cloth face coverings to the Maine Association of Broadcasters (MAB) for distribution to the state's broadcast media outlets.
The Mills Administration announced the following updates to its plan to restart Maine’s economy: 1) Maine residents may enjoy private campgrounds beginning Memorial Day weekend; and 2) the Administration is delaying the full reopening of gyms, fitness centers, and nail salons in light of emerging research and experiences in other states of COVID-19 transmission related to these establishments.
Governor Janet Mills announced that the State of Maine has now received $52.7 million in Federal grant funding from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S. CDC) to bolster epidemiological and laboratory capacity to respond to infectious diseases, particularly COVID-19.
Governor Janet Mills announced that the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is significantly expanding contact tracing by increasing the number of skilled staff and volunteers, harnessing innovative technology, and securing social services to help people with COVID-19 maintain self-isolation.
The Mills Administration announced that it is postponing the full reopening of restaurants for dine-in services in York, Cumberland, and Androscoggin counties. Restaurants in these counties were tentatively scheduled to reopen to dine-in services on June 1 (Stage 2) but are now restricted to reopening to outside dining service only beginning on that date in addition to continuing to provide take-away and delivery services.
Governor Janet Mills signed an Executive Order that allows for the gradual easing of restrictions implemented under previous Executive Orders as the state continues to reopen under the Restarting Maine’s Economy plan. As of today, Maine has reopened its economy on par with or to a greater extent than most other New England states.