Governor Mills: One little match can spark a big fire that we might be unable to put out.

August 25, 2020

Thanks to the efforts of Maine people, all of you who have largely abided by public health measures that we have imposed to keep us all safe, our state has been relatively successful in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in the last few months.

Hello, this is Governor Janet Mills and thank you for listening.

I know the worst parts of this pandemic, the ones we see in other states, those can feel pretty far away from the relative safety of our State of Maine.

Little by little, you may have started to reconnect with friends that you haven’t seen in months, or venture out for a small backyard barbeque, or got to a close-friend’s wedding, or a drive-in graduation party. Things almost feel normal, after the constant worry of the last six months especially, and you start to relax.  You might forget to wear your mask or to keep your distance, but you think, hey it’s ok what are the chances, you live in Maine. Odds are you won’t catch anything you tell yourself.

What you don’t realize is that one person at the party you went to has COVID-19 and doesn’t even know it. They don’t have symptoms, they are feeling okay, and you have no warning. You leave that party and go home to your family, you see a few friends, you stop by the grocery store and you go back to work, never knowing that you have caught the virus and you are exposing others, including people you may never meet yourself.

Hey this isn’t just a possibility – it is reality.

You know what happened in Millinocket.

A woman who didn’t attend the wedding or the reception, but who simply interacted with someone else who did, she died from that exposure.

Sixty people are now associated with that outbreak, they’ve been tested positive for COVID, and that has spread to Madison and down to York County and maybe many other places too.

One little match can spark a big fire that we might be unable to put out.

As we reach the end of summer, we are beginning a new phase of reopening with many schools and universities bringing students back for classroom instruction.

We are expanding testing to identify and isolate outbreaks before they can spread.  But hey testing alone can’t prevent new cases or a new outbreak. Only we can do that as each of us keeps doing our part.

I know people are getting tired, you’re going to be impatient and anxious maybe. We all are. But we cannot let down our guard. Pandemic fatigue could cause fatal consequences for people if we don’t stay focused on the end game which is keeping everyone safe.

So, we got to remember, wash our hands frequently, maintain six feet of distance, stay home when you can, especially if you are older or have an underlying health condition, and wear a face covering when you’re out in public when it is hard to maintain six feet of distance between ourselves and others.

Please, do not attend or organize large gatherings, indoors or outdoors. Don’t take a chance.

We have got to protect our health and the health of our families. It concerns me, for instance, that childhood immunizations have plummeted in recent months as parents avoid doctor’s offices out of fear of the virus. Whether your child is returning to classroom or not, getting protected against the flu and other contagious diseases is critical, as part of our overall public health plan and as part of our efforts to control the pandemic. Any outbreak of whooping cough, measles or the flu could overwhelm our hospitals that are already working to combat COVID-19. And immunization allows your physician to rule out preventable diseases like the flu when your child shows symptoms that are similar to COVID-19. This is really important.

We have set up immunization clinics throughout Maine to help parents “catch up” on their child’s health. Parents can call 207-287-4112 Monday - Friday 8:30 - 4:30 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

If we protect ourselves and one another by taking these steps, we can continue to restart our economy and reopen schools in a safe way, and limit the spread of this dangerous virus as we welcome autumn in Maine.

This is Governor Janet Mills. Thank you for listening and please stay safe.