Maine Moves to Help Businesses, Workers as Closures Mount

By | March 17, 2020

Maine’s governor announced steps Sunday designed to protect businesses and workers as closures mount amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Governor Janet Mills said she has submitted emergency legislation to temporarily expand eligibility for unemployment insurance. She also called on the federal Small Business Administration to provide support loans to small businesses to help them deal with losses, the governor’s office said.

Health officials announced Saturday that the third person to test presumptively positive for the virus in Maine was a woman in her 40s from Cumberland County who was in close contact with another person who tested positive.

Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, is scheduled to hold a news briefing Monday morning.

The Maine Department of Economic and Community Development has also been instructed to find more ways the state can help small businesses, Mills said. She said there’s “no question” the virus has already harmed businesses and workers in the state.

“It is my hope that these actions will not only help them weather this difficult time by providing critical capital and financial support, but also provide them an important sense of relief amid the uncertainty,” Mills said.

Schools, Events Slow Down or Close

Schools have announced shutdowns varying in length from one day to several weeks. Some schools have canceled classes on Monday and plan to broaden the closure. Public and private schools all over Maine are working with parents to facilitate home learning.

Public events that typically herald the spring are also slowing down or getting canceled. Maine Maple Sunday Weekend is a beloved statewide event scheduled for March 21 and 22, but some sugarhouses are shutting down public-facing operations instead.

Augusta Civic Center has also canceled most large events.

Ski Resort Closures

Ski resorts all over the country announced closures and suspensions of operations over the weekend. The two largest in Maine – Sunday River and Sugarloaf – said they would cease operations at the end of the day Sunday.

Sunday River representatives said in a statement that the closure means all events scheduled for the remainder of the winter season at the resort have been canceled.

About the Virus

For most people, the coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, results in only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.

The vast majority of people recover. People with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover, according to the World Health Organization.

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