– Governor Janet Mills
By now I am sure you have heard of the coronavirus, which is sometimes referred to as COVID-19. The Maine CDC, the Centers for Disease Control, reports that the risk to Maine residents remains low, but that doesn’t mean we’re not preparing.
The Maine CDC began working on our preparedness and our response efforts last year, and now with federal officials informing us that this virus is likely to spread further in the United States, we have scaled up our efforts.
- adjusting our emergency response protocols;
- communicating frequently with public health and medical professionals, with our hospital systems, school officials, EMS providers, county governments, Tribal governments, and many others to make sure they all have the most up to date information and resources
- ensuring that potential cases are rapidly identified and investigated and that isolation procedures are in place, if and when needed;
- updating our lab equipment to allow us to test for the coronavirus here in Maine as soon as this very weekend and engaging public health nurses as part of our emergency response, among other measures.
I also convened the Coronavirus Response Team. Under the leadership of the Maine CDC and Doctor Nirav Shah, all departments in my administration are reviewing our State Government readiness plans and coordinating with local agencies, with health authorities, and others to respond to the potential spread of the coronavirus. Our State agency leaders continue to be in constant contact with each other regarding preparedness for any potential coronavirus cases in our State.
So, what can you do? The Maine CDC urges all of us to take precautions and follow the federal guidelines from the U.S. CDC. That means whether you’ve been traveling or not taking the following steps to make sure you and your family are safe:
- First, wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Second, avoid shaking hands as a greeting. That’s tough for somebody like me, I meet a lot of people, but now I’m just saying, “You know what, the CDC has advised us not to shake hands, so with all due respect, I’m not going to be shaking hands.”
- Thirdly, avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Fourth, avoid close contact with anybody who’s sick.
- Fifth, stay home if you are sick. Now that’s not always easy, but please for the sake of the safety of your community and your friends, stay home if you are sick. Also, cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- And finally, clean and disinfect frequently the things you touch — the surfaces and objects that we all handle every day, your cellphone, your computer, your door handles — disinfect them with disinfecting wipes and then throw the wipes away.
Take these simple, important steps to help protect you, your family, your neighbors, and your co-workers from both the coronavirus and the common flu at the same time.
So, this virus is a quickly evolving situation and I am recording this radio address Friday afternoon so it’s possible by the time you hear my voice, there could be new developments. I encourage you to stay-up-to-date by seeking information from credible sources, the Maine CDC being one of them, and the U.S. CDC. On their websites, they keep posting updates every couple of hours and that’s the most important source of information for all of us.
If you are considering travel, I urge you to visit the U.S. CDC’s travel guidance on their website at CDC.GOV. That’s C-D-C.GOV. And if you’ve recently traveled to Italy, South Korea, China or Iran, please stay at home and avoid social contact for 14 days. It’s really important.
If you have symptoms, cough or fever, or shortness of breath, call the doctor’s office. Do not go to the emergency room or to the local clinic but call first. Tell them what your symptoms are, and they’ll help you.
You know, preparing with facts and science and proven public health measures, and commonsense precautions — these are the best measures we can take to protect both the people we serve at work and our friends and families at home and protecting all the people of Maine.