On one day alone this week, Maine recorded 183 new cases of COVID-19, the highest single-day increase since the beginning of the pandemic. Our positivity rate, while significantly lower than other states, has more than doubled in the last two weeks and hospitalizations have increased.
Hello, this is Governor Janet Mills and thank you for listening.
The nation has surpassed more than nine and a half million total cases of COVID-19 — more than 100,000 new cases in a single day — and more than 230,000 deaths — about four times the number of American soldiers who lost their lives in the Vietnam war. 150 people in Maine have died. Not just numbers on a page, people like Tom Flacke, first selectman in the Town of Morrill. People all over this state are getting sick and dying. People with loved ones. Respected members of the community. People who go to your church, your grange, your legion hall.
In a Washington Post interview recently, Dr. Fauci said "We're in for a whole lot of hurt. It's not a good situation. All the stars are aligned in the wrong place as you go into the fall and winter season, with people congregating at home indoors. You could not possibly be positioned more poorly."
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and our gradual reopening process, we have constantly monitored epidemiological data, like case trends and hospitalization rates, as well as health care system readiness and capacity, all of that has informed every one of our decisions on lifting restrictions and stimulating our economy.
Like sailors who used the night skies to navigate home, public health data has been our North Star, guiding us through this pandemic.
To combat the recent rise in cases of COVID-19 and to get us back on course, we made five changes this week.
First, we extended the "Keep Maine Healthy" program through December to promote prevention efforts at the local level; second, we returned to lower indoor gathering limits; third, we postponed bar and tasting room indoor openings for now; fourth, we removed New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut from exempt status under our travel advisory; and fifth, we required that Maine people wear face coverings in all public places, regardless of how far apart we are from other people.
These moves are very similar to moves made in other states this week in response to the tragic trajectory of this pandemic.
I take these actions with a great deal of hesitancy because I’m always mindful of how our actions might affect business, might affect our economy, but I’ve been told by so many people, we cannot have a healthy economy, a healthy community, without healthy people. So we must all do our part to control this virus.
To keep people safe, to keep businesses open, to keep our economy rolling, to keep schools open, we each have to avoid gatherings, stay six feet apart from others, use hand sanitizer, get a flu shot, wear a face covering indoors and outdoors, and wash our hands frequently.
We can stem the tide of this virus, but it will require a team effort on the part of all of us. We are all in this together. You know that this is a fundamental matter of social and personal responsibility - like not driving on the wrong side of the road, like putting your young child in a car seat, like wearing a coat in cold weather. For goodness sakes, it’s common sense and now a matter of social responsibility.
We all worked together so hard this spring, summer and fall to make sure that we could leave our homes safely and get back to something of what life used to be like, with some adjustments. But, winter is coming.
It's time to hunker down, bunker in and buckle up. If we don't, as Dr. Fauci says, we're in for "a whole lot of hurt!"
This is Governor Janet Mills. Thank you for listening. Keep the faith and please stay safe.