Opinion

Looking at available COVID-19 resources

In the past week, we’ve seen small, positive steps forward. We’ve seen lower numbers of COVID-19 cases that suggest Maine is successfully flattening the curve. And some of the pandemic response protocols have been loosened. This is in large part thanks to each of you who stayed home, took precautionary measures when going out or made a trip for one of our vulnerable neighbors. I truly thank you for your efforts.

We are not out of the woods yet, but we can see some light. Still, as we continue to navigate this unusual time, I wanted to share some updates and resources that may be helpful.

I have heard from many of my neighbors and our local business owners who are worried about the toll our COVID-19 response is taking on our economy. To help the state reopen as soon as it is safe to do so, Gov. Mills’ May 1 “Stay Safer at Home” order outlines a four-stage plan to reopening Maine’s economy, opening more and more kinds of businesses each month, expanding limits on group sizes and slowly lifting social distancing guidelines over the course of the summer. More details can be found at maine.gov.

To our local business owners, if the function of your business is not listed in Stage 1 of “Restarting Maine’s Economy,” but you believe that it should be included, you may submit a request for consideration using this online form from the Department of Economic and Community Development: appengine.egov.com.

I have heard from several farmers who wondered where they could buy face masks for their workers working in close quarters, and I think this information could also be useful for businesses as they reopen. The Maine Manufacturing Extension Partnership has compiled a list of Maine businesses making and selling face masks, both retail and wholesale. This list can be found at pages.mainemep.org. In addition, I have personally researched this non-medical face mask supply issue and have found two suppliers right here in central Aroostook County who have a good supply in stock and at a reasonable price available for pick up.  If anyone has a need for these masks, please let me know.

It is important to note that the plan to reopen Maine’s economy is not set in stone. Gov. Mills has stressed that as the public health situation changes and as we develop better solutions for the economy, the plan could change and the timeline could be shortened or extended. As part of that, the Department of Economic and Community Development, which is leading the plan, has opened an online portal for Mainers to submit their ideas for how to improve our reopening plan. I ask that if you have ideas, please share them. 

The governor is also convening an economic recovery committee that will have 37 members representing business, community leaders, workers and lawmakers who will report back on the economic impacts of the pandemic and make policy recommendations. Our own Senator Mike Carpenter has been appointed to this committee, and I know the voice and needs of The County will be well represented.

I am proud of our state’s detailed response to COVID-19 and our collaborative adherence to each mandate. It’s our teamwork that has kept Aroostook County’s numbers low. I am grateful to be a part of that team, and am here to help when you need it. Give me a call at 207-472-4212 or send me an email at david.mccrea@legislature.maine.gov. 

I know that we are not all in the same boat, but we are weathering the same storm. If we keep working together, we will get through the rest of this public health crisis.

Rep. Dave McCrea, D-Fort Fairfield, represents Caswell, Easton, Fort Fairfield, Hamlin, Limestone, Presque Isle (part), Stockholm and Cyr Plantation, plus the unorganized territory of Connor Township.

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