Friday the State of Maine joined countless friends, families, communities, states and countries across the world in mourning the loss of an individual who had COVID-19. A sad day. A sad week.
I’m Governor Janet Mills. Thank you for listening.
In the past several weeks, in the face of this unprecedented challenge, Maine people have stood together.
We faced these times as we always have - with courage, compassion and commonsense, with generosity and patience, with hearts open to one another.
In this moment of grief in our state, we stand side by side still.
One author said that her mother taught her never to look away from another person’s pain.
She said, never look down. Never pretend not to see hurt. Look people in the eye, even when their pain is overwhelming. And find people who can look you in the eye when pain overwhelms you.
We all need to know we’re not alone - especially when we are hurting.
To the family grieving the loss of someone they loved - I know you are hurting, but you are not alone. I hope you hear me when we say we are all family. And we stand by your side.
To the people of Maine – this news will no doubt worry many of you. I can’t say that we won’t suffer more losses before this is over, but know that we will get through this as Mainers, looking each other and looking the world in the eye – together, no matter the distance between us now.
We do need to maintain our distance.
That’s why, based on guidance from the Federal CDC and the State CDC, I have required that all non-essential businesses and operations in Maine close their physical locations to the public, meaning that those who allow customer, vendor or other in-person contact can no longer do so.
I have strongly recommended that all essential businesses like grocery stores immediately reduce congestion in their stores by, you know,
- For big box stores limiting customers to no more than 100 people at a time;
- Issuing curbside pick-up and delivery services;
- Staggering their hours for shoppers of a certain age;
- Closing fitting rooms – this is no time to go out and buy a dress;
- Cautioning customers against handling merchandise that they are not buying;
- Marking six-foot measurements by the cashier stations and reminding people to remain six feet apart;
- Staggering break times for employees and requiring frequent hand-washing;
- And regularly sanitizing high-touch areas, like shopping carts.
Please, go to these stores only when you need to. Just because a store is allowed to be open doesn’t mean it’s safe to go there. Go with a list, touch only the things you are buying, and don’t bring your entire family with you or friends.
Above all, stay away from other people. Stay home and leave home only when absolutely necessary. Take walks and exercise, buy things like groceries, go to work if your job is essential and if you can’t work remotely – but stay six feet away from other people – stay home as much as humanly possible.
Don’t take chances. And if you come from another state, you should self-isolate for 14 days, please. If you’re coming back from Florida, driving up from New York or Boston to a summer home, self-isolate for 14 days.
The life you save may be your own. It may be your child’s. It may be your neighbor’s or your parent’s or grandparent’s. But it will save a life.
Things will get worse before they get better. But they will get better if we all pull together and do what we have to do right now. And it means staying home. We will get through this because we stand together. We will get through this because we are Maine.
On the mantle in my room there is a quote from Emily Dickinson - I think about it every day:
“Hope is thing with feathers That perches in the soul And sings the tune without the words And never stops…at all.”
Today we are feeling grief. But today — and every day — we also know hope.
I hope that God blesses every one of you and yours and keeps you all safe.
And God bless the State of Maine.
I am Governor Janet Mills. Thank you for listening.