Governor Mills, Maine CDC announce first presumptive positive case, steps to respond to COVID-19

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AUGUSTA – Governor Janet Mills and the Maine Center for Disease Control announced today Maine’s first presumptive positive case of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Maine. The individual who tested positive is a woman in her 50s from Androscoggin County. The Maine CDC is speaking to the individual and her medical provider to assess travel history and begin to investigate possible community exposure. The individual is quarantined at her home.

“The Maine CDC has been preparing for this eventuality since the end of last year,” said Governor Mills. “With one presumptive positive case, Maine has a unique window of opportunity to delay an outbreak, like those we see in other states, and to minimize our exposure.”

“Maine CDC has been preparing for more than two months for the eventual arrival of COVID-19,” said Nirav D. Shah, Director of the Maine CDC. “As we work to ensure the best care for this individual, we are not seeing widespread community transmission in Maine. The recommendation we make today is designed to limit potential spread of the virus here.”

The individual’s test sample will be sent to the U.S. CDC for confirmation. Test results on other individuals are pending. Maine CDC will inform the public if positive tests are confirmed and will offer regular updates on testing recommendations. Positive test results will be posted to Maine CDC’s coronavirus webpage.

Governor Mills had already formulated additional steps her Administration is taking to reduce the possible spread of the disease, and announced these steps today.

These steps include: 1) proclaiming an insurance emergency to improve access to care and require private health insurance plans to cover costs related to coronavirus testing; 2) suspending all non-essential out-of-state work travel by State employees; and 3) recommending, 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.

Last week, Governor Mills convened a Coronavirus Response Team, led by Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah and comprised of key individuals in her Administration, to coordinate State government’s response across departments and local agencies and health authorities to the threat of COVID-19. The response team builds on the work that has already been done by the Maine CDC to prepare for potential cases of COVID-19.

The steps announced by Governor Mills today include:

Proclaiming An Insurance Emergency: Under Maine law, Governor Mills has the authority to proclaim an insurance emergency in order to respond to “an existing or imminent likelihood of need for a significant increase in health care services or insurance benefit payments due to injuries or sickness.” The proclamation, which Governor Mills signed today, allows the Superintendent of the Maine Bureau of Insurance to require health insurance carriers providing health care coverage in Maine’s commercial market to cover costs related to coronavirus testing and increases access to care. While this proclamation affects only private insurance sold in the commercial market, the Department of Health and Human Services is also issuing emergency rules to ensure MaineCare provides comprehensive coverage for lab testing and medical treatment. The Maine Bureau of Insurance has determined the extent of the coverage required and issued its own proclamation today. Taking this action will help ensure that Maine people are not burdened by costs or deterred from seeking testing or important medical care related to the coronavirus.

“For our MaineCare members, we will ensure that coverage for lab testing and medical care is comprehensive,” said DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew. “We encourage anyone who develops a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough or difficulty breathing, to call their health care provider.”

“The cost of health care is a real concern for many Maine people,” said Bureau of Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa. “The Governor’s action today will help to alleviate apprehension among those with private insurance about the financial implications of seeking testing for the 2019 novel coronavirus.”

Limiting State Employee Travel: Governor Mills today suspended all non-essential State employee travel outside the State of Maine to limit possible exposure to the coronavirus in other states. The determination of whether travel is or is not essential will be left to the discretion of Department Commissioners, and the need for the directive will be evaluated within the next 30 days.

“Over the past two weeks, DAFS has scaled up its effort to protect the health and safety of State employees. We are in regular communication with our departments, and we have increased how often we clean and sanitize our state offices, especially common spaces,” said DAFS Commissioner Kirsten Figueroa. “This new, temporary limitation will help further protect the safety of the State’s employees as well as the people we are fortunate to serve. As one of the largest employers in the state, it is important that we take precautions like this to ensure that we can continue to fully and effectively serve the people of Maine.”

Recommending Postponing Large, Indoor Gatherings: Because COVID-19 spreads easily and rapidly, the U.S. CDC has recommended “social distancing” — which means keeping your distance from other people, especially those most at risk of getting sick, including older adults and people with serious chronic medical conditions. It is one of the most effective strategies to prevent community spread of coronavirus. In light of that guidance and upon the recommendation of the Coronavirus Response Team and the experts at the Maine CDC, Governor Mills is recommending the postponement of all non-essential large, indoor group gatherings in Maine of 250 or more attendees for the next 30 days.

Reducing the interaction of large groups of people now can delay an outbreak as well as substantially reduce its spread. Doing so will also reduce the strain on our health care system so that it can respond effectively to people diagnosed with the virus as well as other patients. Ultimately, organizers will decide for themselves the necessity of their events with the help of guidance issued by the Maine CDC and Maine people will decide for themselves the necessity of their attendance. This is not a recommendation to close schools. The Maine Department of Education continues to work closely with the Maine CDC and schools across Maine to help them prepare for COVID-19.

The Governor will re-evaluate this recommendation two weeks from now and adjust it based on the circumstances and up-to-date guidance from the U.S. CDC and Maine CDC guidance.

For more information on Maine’s response to COVID-19 and updated testing results, visit the Maine CDC website. Additionally, Maine CDC and 211 Maine have launched a new option for Mainers to get answers to questions about COVID-19 at any time. This service is available by dialing 211 (or 1-866-811-5695), texting your ZIP code to 898-211, or emailing info@211maine.org.

The best thing that Maine people can do to protect their health is to take the same preventive measures that avoid catching a cold: Wash your hands often for 20 seconds. Cover coughs and sneezes. Stay home if you are sick. Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, shortness of breath, and lower respiratory distress. Call ahead to a health care professional if you develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness. Health care providers will make the initial determination on whether COVID-19 testing is advisable. In cases where it is, medical providers will alert the Maine CDC to coordinate testing. As appropriate, health providers will take samples and submit them to Maine CDC.

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  1. Honestly, if people would just switch over to a plant based diet none of this stuff would be an issue.

  2. Actually Bob people have contracted Ebola from lettuce grown out west. It had something to do with uncleanliness. I don’t understand how the governor has been preparing for this since before it even broke out. It broke in January and our state has been preparing since end of last year ?
    It’s kind of sad that our society is so scared they allow our government to dictate what we can and can’t be doing because of “health risks”. We have allowed them to end sport’s season, public gatherings (see what was going on in China just days before the outbreak), and travel. Will the government e paying people back for all plane tickets that can’t be used ? Not likely folks. Watch out for that falling sky !!!

  3. Bob,

    Please fill the rest of us in about how a plant based diet will prevent viral Pneumonia? Complete Nonsense.

  4. I’d like to thank everyone’s calm and collective reaction to this virus and the issues we are facing due to it and then completely WIPING OUT THE TOILET PAPER SUPPLY AT EVERY STORE IN FRANKLIN COUNTY!! Well done fools. #notoiletpaperinfranklincounty

  5. This cold virus is the tool the globalists needed to advance their communist agendas. Everything they have been doing to slowly take control of everything we do has now been ramped up. Now the Democrats will implement it all. We have just gotten started. Forcing healthcare coverage, shutting down our ability to travel, isolating people by canceling everything. (I understand taking precautions, but Colleges in Maine, and not public schools?). The taxes related to this are coming soon. What’s next? If the next shooter tests positive do they have their reason to take all the guns? Just watch.

    It seems like the left leaning liberal colleges across the country shut down to virtue signal to everyone else. Then it was the leftest NBA. The democrat controlled media is purposely over hyping the issue as usual forcing the narrative and forcing other entities to follow suit.

    You want to talk about a “Manufactured Crisis” That’s what this IS! Designed to crash the much hated booming economy. This is China, with the help of communist Americans AKA Democrats and Rino’s. Because the Chinese government should be our model? They lied about it from the get go!

    Where are the precautions taken for the flu? 14,000 dead since September (CDC as of 3/10/2020), but the CDC does not considers this an epidemic. Why? Is doesn’t meet the threshold of 7.3% of dead to infected. No one buys into this panic if its the flu but if its a new strand of the common cold by all means cripple the economy.

    You must read between the lines with news. THEY WILL NOT TELL YOU THE HONEST TRUTH ABOUT ANYTHING!

    I have a daughter going to UMF. They rushed this decision so fast they students are getting left in the dust with no rights to reclaim tuition for lost services “unless they un-enroll by the 17th”. My daughter is getting screwed by this and I’m guessing she’s no alone. She doesn’t want to quit or extend for another semester. But hey it’s only tuition right? Student don’t pay enough as far as colleges are concerned which is why more seniors are going for another year to get that one last class that wasn’t offered in their last semester. Or being advised to take classes they don’t need. The colleges will profit from these shut downs and they know it.

    BTW: Trump is handling this better than the last administration handled their crisis despite what the lying commies say. Trump 2020!

  6. From Maine CDC,
    ” the vast majority of people infected with the virus experience it as they would a common cold or the flu and make a full recovery.”

    The Freakout is in full swing.

    Turn off Hysterical Political Media
    Calm Down.
    Take the precautions
    Wash Your Hands.
    Oh and,,, have a good day.

  7. I agree that the more I hear the more paranoid I become!! Trying to stay calm, but when everyone around you is panicking, it’s hard not to worry. Been to the stores lately….everything is getting wiped out from this hysteria!! Ugh

  8. My understanding is that it is called Covid-19 because it was discovered in 2019. That’s last year.

  9. Science is science people. If everyone ate a plant based diet there would be no need of containing animals in small cages in wet markets in China. Not to mention we would be less at risk because we would all have less heart disease, no diabetes. Mmm fried chicken with a side of corona please!

  10. I have 200 rolls of high grade double ply for $59.99 per roll if anyone’s interested.

  11. I’m laughing so hard at Tim Storer’s response. How does it feel to live such a paranoid life? Did your tin foil hat fall off when you were writing this? Gee, I hope that liberal education your daughter is getting at UMF doesn’t turn her into a Commie. Remember when Obama took your guns? Or when Hillary took your guns? Or is this all part of their plan too? Turn off the TV and try to live a happy life.

  12. Original cheapskate, I am going to have to get $25 for a quarter roll. Have to take into account the extra labor involved.

  13. Relax and act like Mainers (if you actually are one). If you didn’t have “it” (preps) last week, you probably are doing it wrong. Everyone living here should be able to do a few weeks at home with no store, don’t you think? We have awful weather frequently, that alone is enough to warrant preparedness. Even tho the Obama admin labeled ‘preppers’ as terrorists, ha ha.

    It’s time to sit home, have some cocoa, enjoy each others’ company and be glad you don’t live in a city. Don’t get all panicked, now, Lefties – or you’ll end up making Trump your dictator, ha ha! :) That would be the height of irony…it’s not the ‘issue’ that creates the biggest problems…it’s how people REACT to them.

  14. Paper king ok I understand I can only afford to buy 3 quarter rolls. Best to be prepared.

  15. I never would’ve known there were so many epidemiologists in Farmington until reading these comments. Glad to know there are so many experts in my home town!

    Tim, bud, listen to all these experts. Apparently there’s nothing to worry about, you can stop hoarding all the tinfoil hats.

    Still don’t get why people are allowed to comment with fake names.

  16. “it’s not the ‘issue’ that creates the biggest problems…it’s how people REACT to them.” <—– So true!! Please remain calm people. Be smart. Wash your hands. Do not touch your eyes, ears, nose, or mouth unless you JUST washed your hands. Simple stuff.

  17. 1. No one has contracted Ebola from California lettuce You are confusing E. coli with Ebola Good lord

    2. Although the Bulldog undoubtedly gets advertising revenue by citing number of comments/readers, whether the ignorant believe it or not, and god knows what they will call the leftie hoax as the ventilator tube goes down their throat, the responsible journal should cut off all comments in the public interest.Because when “manufactured crisis” is printed, we see the danger as
    opinions can spread misinformation . People have a right to believe whatever they want , but journalism should be responsible and not fan any fires in this time of unknowns and fears

  18. I refuse to fear a disease that can be cured with toilet paper. Think about it. Corona was made in China. NOTHING made in China lasts!

  19. Yes Yikes it was E. coli sorry I knew it started with an E. Still no reason for people to freak out over this. In the last two days more Veterans ha e died from suicide than Corona in the US. No epidemic. Opioids, texting and driving kill more people everyday than. Corona has and our government hasn’t fixed those problems and they won’t fix this. Their inept and all they do well is argue, point fingers and waste tax dollars.
    If the colleges want to keep people safe they should not even have spring break and keep the students ( the ones paying their salaries) should stay and get the education they are paying for. Not forfeit their tuition because the college gave short notice of how to get money back. Pretty good scam if you ask me.

  20. Wow. Just wow. I cannot believe some of the comments made here. Not sure which is scarier…. these ill informed and ignorant comments or the freak out that is going on around us. Globalists advancing their communist agendas? What???? Really????? Wow. You do have one thing right, Mr. Storer. They will not tell you the truth… The president, that is. He doesn’t seem to know which end is up. Great job, Brownie. MAGA!!!!

  21. Bruh, remember that time a lady from Maine thought E.Coli and Ebola were the same thing? Oh.My.God

  22. I have 2 family members that are in collage, both 3rd year students One out of state, one in state. They both have been advised to not return to campus. However, they WILL continue their education on line till either the collages deem it safe to be back, or the end of the semester. One lives on campus. One shares an apartment. My on campus family member will be able to use the remaining amount of costs to Sept. Neither will lose any money from tuition or room & board. If Mr Storers daughter is having issues losing money, maybe she should look into what is really going to happen..every collage, high school, middle school, elementary school I have heard about closing, is doing on line classes. Hard to believe Farmington collage isn’t! Believe me, collages, nor any other business who have either shut down, or reduced hours are making money! ( only ones who ARE making a huge profit are toilet paper companies and hand sanitizer companies!)

  23. Suzie, have you been to collage ( sic )?. I haven’t been to college so can you explain to me how toilet paper companies are making any more profit it they sell all their product in one day vs. 2 weeks? People only use and need so much. ( Are YOU actually using more? ) Eventually everyone will realize they have enough then the sales will drop because no one needs to buy any. Will profits then fall? Or will the sales over a period of say 3 months be exactly the same?. Hand sanitizer is a different story.

  24. “. . . postponement of all non-essential large, indoor group gatherings in Maine of 250 or more attendees for the next 30 days.”.

    So, Schools, right? This is school every day of the week for 7 hours a day.

    Seems to stop this with social distancing there needs to be coordinated synchronized closures not staggered or by choice closures.

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