Major takeaways from today’s joint briefing by Governor Janet Mills, Commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services Jeanne Lambrew, and Dr. Nirav D. Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, included a peek at executive actions Governor Mills plans to announce in the next few days.

Governor Mills’ plans include executive orders that prevent writs of eviction, and she intimated that she would be creating a fund to help those who cannot pay their rent due to COVID-19.

“I can’t imagine being evicted at a time like this. This is not the right time for any landlord to be evicting anyone,” she said.

In other news, Governor Mills said that she plans to move the June 9 primaries to July 14, to allow for proper preparations to be made. These preparations will include a focus on voting by absentee ballot, in order to reduce congestion at the polls.

Governor Mills also announced that she has ordered the National Guard to work with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and hospitals to stand up two alternative care sites in Portland and Bangor in the event that Maine sees a surge of inpatients needing care. These sites will be set up and staffed beginning as soon as next week, and will provide a total of 150 additional hospital beds.

“I hope we never use these sites, but we can’t wait to find out,” Governor Mills said.

The National Guard is a reserve military force whose members mostly work part-time. Governor Mills is authorized to call up Maine’s National Guard to help in emergencies such as the current health crisis. In parts of New York, National Guard troops have been used to distribute food during the COVID-19 outbreak. In general, National Guard troops support civilian efforts to help others during a natural disaster or other emergency, and do not act as law enforcement.

Dr. Shah reported a total number of 519 confirmed cases in Maine today, which represents an increase of 20 new cases in a 24-hour period. He also reported two more deaths, which brings the total number of deaths from COVID-19 to 12 in Maine.

Dr. Shah described the efforts of the CDC to predict the future course of the epidemic in Maine using complex modeling processes, but said it is too early to know when the peak will be in Maine.

The Governor and Dr. Shah emphasized the key role everyone in Maine will play in determining the final toll of the virus, which at this point has no cure, and no vaccine, and so can ony be controlled by social distancing.

The Governor reviewed a timeline of measures she has put in place, beginning with her March 15 recommendation to close the schools and limit the size of social gatherings, to her March 31 “Stay Healthy at Home Order” intended to keep people at home as much as is possible.

“Nothing is certain,” the Governor said. “Will we stay home, and flatten the curve? It is up to Maine people – to all of you. This is a test of our humanity. Only time will tell whether we pass this test.”