Hello, it’s finally spring. The crocuses and tulips are poking their heads through the soil, robins are singing. Meanwhile, we continue to fight one of the biggest challenges our state has faced in a hundred years.
Hi, I am Governor Janet Mills and thank you for listening.
The State of Maine has joined all other states in confronting the threat of the COVID-19 virus. Like other states, Maine has seen hundreds of people fall seriously ill and dozens of people die as a result of the virus.
All 50 states now have invoked their emergency executive powers. The President has declared every state a federal disaster area. And the overwhelming majority of states have issued strict “stay healthy at home” orders and orders prohibiting large gatherings and many common recreational and business activities.
Look, we all want life to return to normal as soon as it is safe to do so. Our hearts break to see closed storefronts and people struggling to make ends meet because of this crisis. Each day people call me and tell me their story and urge me to keep people safe while also doing what we can to protect the businesses and the lives and livelihoods of working men and women who are the heart and soul of our state.
At the same time, they and we know that reopening too soon and too aggressively could cause a secondary surge in COVID 19 cases, risking the lives of Maine people, overwhelming our healthcare system and further destabilizing the economy. Nobody wants that.
That’s the truth. And I’m not going to sugarcoat it.
Here in Maine, we are pursuing a cautious reopening, tailored to our state's own demographics and economic sectors. This approach won’t be driven by artificial deadlines or generic guidelines. It will be driven instead by fact, science and public health, and it will be done in cooperation with the private sector.
Our basic principles are:
- Protecting Public Health;
- Maintaining Health Care Readiness;
- Building Reliable and Accessible Testing; and
- Prioritizing Public-Private Collaboration
The Administration’s approach will utilize criteria and measurements being developed now by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention that will lead to a phased reopening of our economy. We will share those measures shortly when they are finalized.
Meanwhile, the DECD (Department of Economic and Community Development) will solicit ideas from industries and the various sectors of Maine’s economy about we can collaborate and how they can work with State Government to develop practical, reasonable, evidence-informed protocols to reopen.
We invite Maine people to take part in the discussion — give us your ideas about how we can safely restart the economy at https://www.maine.gov/decd/.
We also continue to process tens of thousands of new unemployment claims, and sending out the $600 weekly checks under the new federal program and planning how to process the new claims for self-employed individuals under this other new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program. We’re getting through it.
While we work hard to get benefits out to all eligible people, while we keep track of outbreaks of the virus across the state, and while we plan on how to reopen businesses and activities, dreaming of going back to the way things were, we also know that things will not return to normal soon.
Meanwhile we call on each other to reimagine how we do things, how we invent different ways of doing business, or shopping, or traveling, taking care not just of ourselves but of every man, woman and child in Maine, for whom we are all now equally responsible.
After all, you know, Maine is not just a state or a way of life or a dot on the map with 1.3 million people, or some place between the 42nd and 47th parallel on the globe. Maine is a community of souls, a state of givers and doers, of people with ideas, courage and compassion. Now is the time to let our true selves shine.
This is Governor Janet Mills and thank you for listening.