Disaster Declaration Sought; Stay-Home Order Underway in Maine

Maine Governor Janet Mills requested a federal disaster declaration Wednesday as the state recorded two more COVID-19 deaths, dozens more people tested positive, and the start of a “stay-at-home” order neared.

If approved, the declaration would open the door to greater resources to support child care, behavioral health and legal services, among others. The governor also requested federal money for the Maine National Guard, should soldiers be needed during the pandemic.

“While I know we will conquer this virus, we cannot do it alone. As Maine people do their part, I am hopeful the president will lend the support of the federal government by approving my request for a major disaster declaration swiftly and in full,” Mills said.

The governor’s stay-at-home order, taking effect at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, prohibits Mainers from traveling outside of their homes for all but “essential personal activities,” such as obtaining food or health care, or traveling to an essential job.

The two new deaths were women in their 80s in Cumberland County, bringing that county’s toll to five, said Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control. Two other deaths were announced the day before in York and Kennebec counties. All told, more than 340 people have tested positive for the virus in Maine, he said.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.