Governor issues new recommendations, 17 cases reported

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AUGUSTA – Governor Janet Mills signed a proclamation of civil emergency Sunday evening, announcing new recommendations in response to the spread of COVID-19.

Recommendations included ending classroom instruction in all public schools – a step that Franklin County districts and others took earlier that day – postponing elective surgeries and non-urgent medical procedures and advising long-term care providers to prohibit visitors and non-essential health care personnel under normal circumstances.

She also recommended that all events with 50 or more people in attendance be postponed, as well as gatherings of 10 or more people considered to be at a higher risk from COVID-19. The U.S. Center for Disease Control announced a similar recommendation late Sunday evening as well, asking event organizers cancel or postpone events that will consist of 50 or more people.

Monday morning, Maine CDC reported eight confirmed cases of novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, and another nine presumptive positive cases, a term referencing positive tests from non-governmental labs that haven’t been verified by Maine CDC yet. Another 764 tests have come back negative.

The majority of the cases are in Cumberland County, which the Maine CDC says is showing cases believed to be related to community transmission – that is to say, cases in which COVID-19 was contracted within the state. Additionally, one case has been reported in Lincoln County and one case has been reported in Androscoggin County.

“With several new presumptive positive cases of coronavirus in Maine, it is important that we prepare and respond – but not panic,” Mills said in the statement released Sunday. “The Maine CDC has prepared for this eventuality since last year and we are coordinating across government and with communities statewide to respond to this threat. Proclaiming a state of civil emergency unleashes critical state authorities and allows access to federal funds that will support our response efforts to delay and mitigate the outbreak in Maine. These new recommendations will also further protect Maine people.”

The Proclamation of State of Civil Emergency to Further Protect Public Health signed by Mills on Sunday would allow the governor to issue mandatory closures, but Mills said at Sunday’s press conference that there had been significant compliance to the recommendations and mandatory closures would not be issued at this time. The civil emergency lasts 30 days if not renewed, also allowing the governor to sign mutual aid agreements and provides greater access to federal resources.

Mills also noted that Sunday was the 200th anniversary of Maine obtaining statehood; a previously-scheduled ceremonial event was cancelled earlier in the week.

“Two hundred years ago, we separated ourselves from Massachusetts and embarked on creating our own destiny as a state,” Mills said. “We then, as Maine people, learned to be self-reliant and, at the same time, to rely on each other. Today, we are self-reliant and, at the same time, we rely on each other.”

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