Gov. Mills addresses ‘fight to strike’ balance between protecting Maine’s health and economy

Fri, 05/29/2020 - 5:45pm

    The following is a transcript of a Friday, May 29 radio address given by Governor Janet Mills. 

    Throughout this COVID-19 pandemic and our gradual reopening of the economy, the Maine CDC has monitored epidemiological data, including case trends and hospitalization rates, and health care readiness and capacity, to inform every one of our decisions on lifting restrictions in the State of Maine.

    What do these trends look like?

    Hello, this is Governor Janet Mills. Thank you for listening.

    In the past two weeks, Maine’s count of confirmed COVID-19 cases has increased. Three counties in particular show alarming trends in these cases.

    In the seven days beginning Wednesday, May 20 to Tuesday, May 26, a total of 96 new cases was reported in Androscoggin County alone, for an average daily increase there of almost 14.

    In the same time frame, a total of 193 new cases was reported in Cumberland County, for an average daily increase of more than 27.

    In that same time frame also, a total of 52 new cases occurred in York County, for an average daily increase of more than 7.

    In light of those trends, earlier this week, my Administration postponed the reopening of restaurants for dine-in service in York, Cumberland, and Androscoggin counties.

    Restaurants in these counties were tentatively scheduled to reopen to dine-in services on June 1.

    Instead, they may now offer outside dining service beginning June 1, but not dine-in eating.

    I also announced that restaurants in Maine’s other thirteen counties can reopen as planned on June 1st for indoor and outdoor dining with precautions.

    As of this recording, Maine has reopened its economy on a par with or to an even greater extent than other New England states.

    Still, I know that this week’s announcement was unwelcome news for some restaurants in Cumberland, York and Androscoggin counties who had been preparing to fully reopen next week. I recognize and deplore the impact that this has on them.

    I hear people asking: could we have given them a few more days, a little more notice? Well I would like to have been able to provide more notice, but, knowing that nothing is predictable about this pandemic except that people will get sick and many will die, I am trying to balance that fact with the need to consider the most current public health data and trends available.

    So over that past week leading up to Wednesday, the trend in Androscoggin County for instance, continued to climb in a disturbing fashion. We had no choice. 

    Every decision has consequences that are devastating for some, but every decision is intended to protect people of Maine from a deadly virus which is often spread in enclosed spaces where people tend to sit for extended periods of time, places like indoor dining facilities.

    As Governor my responsibility is to protect the health and wellbeing of Maine people and to support our economy – and I will continue to fight to strike that balance.

    The easy thing to do would be to allow everything to reopen. The easy thing to do would be to say yes to every business that wants to open widely and pretend that things are the same as they were a year ago, but they’re not and there is nothing easy about any of this. Our decisions however are based on fact and medical science, not on politics and not on popularity. The people of Maine expect no less of us.

    So, I ask you – please – remember to wash your hands frequently, maintain six feet of distance between you and others, stay home when you can especially if you are older or have a health condition. Wear a cloth face covering when you are out in public to protect others.

    Stay local, shop local. Support your local small businesses whenever possible.

    Thank you for your continued patience and cooperation. We’ve kept our numbers low in comparison to other states because we’ve done the right thing and you’ve done the right thing.

    We are in this together.

    As Doctor Anthony Fauci said earlier this week “Now is the time, if ever there was one, for us to care selflessly about one another.”

    I couldn’t agree more.

    This is Governor Janet Mills.

    Thank you for listening.