A word on the COVID-19 crisis

For many of us, the days since COVID-19 entered Maine have felt like an alternate reality. As with any transition in life, it’s important that we take some time to reflect on what’s changed, and to remember all the things that have stayed the same.

 It seems we fast forwarded even further into the digital age in response to this virus. Mainers across the state gather around their televisions and computers each weekday at 2 p.m. to hear Dr. Nirav Shah, director of Maine’s CDC, update us on the virus’ spread and our state’s response. Many of us are connecting with friends and family near and far through phone calls, texting and video.  

Deadlines and processes for some of our most basic actions have shifted. Our state and federal taxes are now not due until July 15, 2020. The state has given extensions on driver’s licenses, state identification cards, vehicle and boat registrations and more that expire during this time of crisis. And courts are delaying hearings and reducing hours.

Even when we’re outside, it’s all a bit different as we keep our distance. I want to remind people that social distancing does not mean social isolation, and it does not mean staying inside. Visit one of Maine’s many trails. Until April 30, the state has waived the need to have a recreational fishing license to fish in inland waters, so this is a good opportunity. We are so lucky to live in a state with so many incredible things to do outdoors.

Then, of course, there’s the changes to how we’re trying to stay healthy. Never before have we scrubbed our hands with soap and hot water as often as we are now. Never before have we worried about the germs we might be bringing home with us from the grocery store, the gas station or the take-out counter. Never before have we shown love for an at-risk family member by leaving food and supplies outside their door, instead of sitting at the dinner table with them or hugging them goodbye.

It all feels strange, but it’s all to keep each other safe, and that’s what’s stayed the same. Mainers will always be there for each other, and we will always find a way to get through a crisis together.

We’re resourceful people. Just look at our farmers, fishermen and small business owners. Instead of letting this virus run them out of business, they’re creating new ways to distribute their goods and services. They’re building community networks, getting the word out through any means necessary and keeping our economy going. And I am so heartened by the support our communities have shown to our small farms and businesses during this difficult time.

We also care deeply about our neighbors. Maine people are rushing to sites like Maine Helps to find out where and how they can volunteer. Doctors and nurses are coming out of retirement to help our hospital and clinics address patient needs. People all over the state are calling seniors to see if they need errands run or a friendly voice to talk to. Here in The County, even our sled dog teams have helped deliver groceries and get medication to those in need. Put simply, every one of us is finding a way to help someone else.

So as we look at all that’s changed, let’s remember one important thing: The people of Aroostook County have a spirit that will get us through anything, and that will never change.

If you need any assistance or have questions about state resources, feel welcome to give me a call at 207-472-4212 or send me an email at David.McCrea@legislature.maine.gov.

Rep. David McCrea, D-Fort Fairfield, is serving his second term in the Legislature and represents Caswell, Easton, Fort Fairfield, Hamlin, Limestone, part of Presque Isle, Stockholm and Cyr Plantation, plus the unorganized territory of Connor Twp.

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