April 9th, the Maine CDC held a live-streamed briefing about the virus, and the steps they will continue to take to ensure the virus is controlled. As of Wednesday, April 8th, there are now 537 confirmed cases as well as a death toll of fourteen. On the other hand, 187 residents have fully recovered from the virus, giving hope to some of the other citizens who are in fear. The virus has spread across all counties except for Piscataquis, which is located in central Maine (Burns). Since Maine is being hit at a less rapid rate than other states, are our current precautions enough to prevent a potential spike?
New Treatment Centers:
The Cross Insurance Centers in Portland and Bangor are now being set up to be treatment centers, in order to expand the available healthcare capacity. The location in Bangor will be able to hold up to fifty patients while the Portland location will hold 100. This will limit the number of cases in ER’s by allowing people who are showing COVID-19 symptoms but do not need intensive care, to go to these new treatment centers. Although this is not the State Official’s first option and Governor Janet Mills said hospitals are still the preferred place for treatment, these two pop up treatment centers are back up in case of a potential spike of infectious residents. “I hope we never need to use these alternative care sites, but we cannot afford to wait to find out,” Mills said, in hopes that by placing these two new locations, we can get ahead of the spread (Andrews). Portland and Bangor have some of the highest numbers of cases, and by placing those two treatment centers there, they will be able to expand treatment options.
Cumberland County has 238 confirmed cases, the highest number out of all counties. After five city employees were infected, the city of Portland issued a stay at home order starting Wednesday, the 25th. City Manager, Jon Jennings created the emergency order and had it carried out for five days until the City Council had a chance to discuss whether or not to extend it. The regulations for this order consisted of prohibiting gatherings of more than ten people and restricted non-essential travel, if any of these were violated, there would be $500.00 fine along with the costs of prosecution. The outdoor exercise was still permitted as long as people kept a distance (https://www.facebook.com/mattbyrnejournalism/?fref=ts). Since those five days have passed, the council voted to extend the order until April 27th. They also passed the order to suspended evictions within Portland, to ensure everyone has housing regardless of their circumstances (Gordon).
On March 31st, Governor Janet Mills issued new authorizations to limit the number of cases. These consist of the basic stay home except for necessary travel, all schools are moved to online, and lastly, limiting the number of people allowed in stores. If anyone violates this, they will be subjected to six months in jail and a $1000 fine (“Governor Mills Issues Stay Healthy at Home Mandate | Office of Governor Janet T. Mills”).
Can Maine Close its Borders?
A petition is currently going around with over 23,000 signatures for Gov. Mills to close Maine’s borders to any travelers, with exceptions of truck drivers, medical, and military personnel. Yes, this does seem like an easy solution, but it is unable to happen. Although there is no rule that says the state government can or cannot shut down the borders, the Constitution protects everyone’s right to travel. In the 1965 Supreme Court case or Zemel V. Rusk, Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote, “That freedom does not mean that areas ravaged by flood, fire or pestilence cannot be quarantined when it can be demonstrated that unlimited travel to the area would directly and materially interfere with the safety and welfare of the area or the Nation as a whole.” Instead of completely closing the Maine-New Hampshire border, she has implemented a 14-day self-quarantine for everyone entering the state (Puckett).
Is Maine doing enough? Yes, Maine officials have implemented all the necessary precautions, but it is up to the residents to follow through. There is only so much that the government can do, but it will not work unless we obey. That’s why it is so important to practice social distancing and self-quarantine because ultimately, it is now up to us to help flatten the curve.
Andrews, Caitlin. “Maine Will Erect Temporary Coronavirus Treatment Centers in Bangor and Portland.” Bangor Daily News, Bangor Daily News, 7 Apr. 2020, bangordailynews.com/2020/04/07/news/bangor/maine-will-erect-temporary-coronavirus-treatment-centers-in-bangor-and-portland/. Accessed 9 Apr. 2020.
Burns, Christopher. “April 9 Morning Update: The Latest on the Coronavirus and Maine.” Bangor Daily News, Bangor Daily News, 9 Apr. 2020, bangordailynews.com/2020/04/09/health/april-9-morning-update-the-latest-on-the-coronavirus-and-maine/. Accessed 9 Apr. 2020.
Gordon, Clay. Portland Council Votes to Extend Stay at Home Order during Coronavirus, COVID-19 Pandemic. 2020, www.newscentermaine.com/article/news/local/portland-council-votes-to-extend-stay-at-home-order-during-coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic/97-548e7a77-afad-4524-a92c-ba0f5299cc8b.
“Governor Mills Issues Stay Healthy at Home Mandate | Office of Governor Janet T. Mills.” Www.Maine.Gov, www.maine.gov/governor/mills/news/governor-mills-issues-stay-healthy-home-mandate-2020-03-31.
https://www.facebook.com/mattbyrnejournalism/?fref=ts. “Portland Issues Stay-at-Home Order, Closing All but Essential Workplaces.” Press Herald, 24 Mar. 2020, www.pressherald.com/2020/03/24/portland-issues-shelter-in-place-order-closes-additional-private-workplaces/#. Accessed 9 Apr. 2020.
Puckett, Jason. “VERIFY: Can Gov. Mills Legally Shut down Maine Borders to Protect against Coronavirus, COVID-19.” News Center Maine, 2 Apr. 2020, www.newscentermaine.com/article/news/verify/verify-can-gov-mills-legally-shut-down-maine-borders-to-protect-against-coronavirus-covid-19/97-b1be0b76-93de-4ce9-8ff5-d657d8720975.