In remarks delivered during the last scheduled COVID-19 media briefing today, Governor Janet Mills welcomed the end of Maine’s nearly sixteen month long State of Civil Emergency and paid tribute to Maine people for their perseverance throughout the pandemic.
The State of Civil Emergency, which the Governor first declared on March 15, 2020 three days after the first reported case of the coronavirus in Maine, will officially expire tonight at midnight. Its end – along with that of the COVID-19 media briefings – comes as Maine continues to demonstrate nation-leading progress in vaccinations and containing the spread of COVID-19. More than 75.1 percent of Maine people age 12 and older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 69.1 percent are fully vaccinated, according to the U.S. CDC vaccination tracker. As of today, Maine, adjusted for population, ranks fourth lowest in total number of cases and fourth lowest in number of deaths from COVID-19, according to the U.S. CDC.
In her remarks, the Governor recalled the difficulties the pandemic imposed on Maine people and businesses and the many steps her administration took to protect the lives and livelihoods of Maine people. She held a moment of silence for those who lost their lives during the pandemic and warned that the pandemic was not fully over, as she again encouraged Maine people to get vaccinated to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their communities.
“Today, we take another important step forward in our return to normal,” said Governor Janet Mills. “After nearly sixteen long, difficult months, ending the State of Civil Emergency is a welcome milestone that reflects the progress Maine has made in getting people vaccinated and reducing the spread of the virus. Maine people have persevered, and, although challenges remain, we will get through them together just as we did this past year. I congratulate and thank Maine people for all they have done to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their fellow citizens.”
“Readily available vaccination has been the tool that got Maine to this point,” said Dr. Nirav D. Shah, Director of the Maine CDC. “We can stop the virus in its tracks by taking one simple step. Get your shot today.”
“For more than a year, Maine people have faced the extraordinary trials of the pandemic with grace and grit,” said Jeanne Lambrew, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. “The end of the State of Civil Emergency ushers in a new phase in our fight against COVID-19, which continues even as our daily lives begin to return to normal. As we look forward, we remain grateful to our health care partners throughout the state and all those who sacrificed in service of public health and rolled up their sleeves to get vaccinated.”
During the pandemic, the Governor took carefully-tailored action to protect public health while attempting to minimize business and economic disruption, allowing essential businesses to stay open and others to adapt their public-facing operations in order to serve Maine people.
In May 2020, the Governor secured a major expansion of COVID-19 testing for the State of Maine, partnering with Maine-based IDEXX Laboratories, Inc. to purchase enough of the company’s COVID-19 testing kits to allow anyone in Maine suspected of having COVID-19 to receive a test.
The expansion paved the way for the Administration to implement a plan to gradually expand Maine’s reopening based on sector, geography and risk presented by the virus. That plan was updated depending on fluctuations in the virus’ spread. Today, according to the CNN and Moody’s Analytics “Back to Normal Index,” Maine’s economy is operating at 99 percent of where it was in March 2020, the 12th best in the nation.
Over the course of the last year, the Mills Administration also distributed $1.25 billion in CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Funds (PDF), committing nearly half of the state’s Federal CRF to support Maine’s small businesses and workers, along with significant funding to Maine’s public school systems. Additionally, Maine invested significantly in public health and safety, including the procurement of PPE; health and safety within congregate living settings; grants for health care and behavioral health providers and for municipalities to deploy public health and prevention programs; child care for frontline workers; and pandemic assistance for people who are homeless, minorities, food insecure, and otherwise marginalized.
The Governor also instituted curtailment measures to keep the State budget in balance while avoiding deep programmatic cuts and thereby protecting Maine’s safety net infrastructure and preserving critical public health, public safety and education funding that Maine people rely on. As a result of the Governor’s actions and Federal stimulus, Maine’s nonpartisan Revenue Forecasting Committee projected increases in revenue that surpassed the amount of revenue forecasted prior to the onset of the pandemic.
In February 2021, the Administration also adopted an age-based approach to expand vaccine eligibility in order to protect the lives of those most at risk from dying or becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 and to ensure the fastest delivery of shots into arms. It also partnered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to bring a Mobile Vaccination Unit to Maine to travel the state to provide hard-to-reach populations with vaccinations. As a result of these efforts and Maine peoples’ willingness to roll up their sleeves, Maine continues to demonstrate nation-leading progress in its vaccination efforts.
To help Maine continue to recover from the pandemic, she has proposed the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan. Drawing on recommendations from the Governor’s Economic Recovery Committee and Maine’s 10-Year Economic Development Strategy, the Plan makes unprecedented investments to tackle unaddressed needs and solve longstanding challenges.
Governor Mills announced earlier this month that the State of Civil Emergency would expire on June 30, 2021. To ensure an orderly transition out of the emergency and allow State government departments to continue necessary pandemic-related services, she said that her Administration would identify any policies that may need temporary extensions past June 30, 2021. Today, Governor Mills also signed an Executive Order to temporarily preserve pandemic related services that are still needed, including flexibility for health care providers, child care providers, and home-and community-based service providers given ongoing pandemic-related public health challenges.
Under Maine law, Proclamations of Civil Emergencies may be issued in thirty-day increments. Consistent with the vast majority of states who have maintained active emergencies throughout the pandemic according to the National Governor’s Association, Governor Mills renewed the State of Civil Emergency fifteen times.