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Former State CDC Head On How Mainers Can Prepare For Potential Coronavirus Outbreak

Nora Flaherty
Maine Public

As coronavirus in the United States becomes a more immediate concern, Maine's former Center for Disease Control head, Dora Mills, says the best things to do in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak in Maine are the things Mainers do most winters: 

“It is the same kind of preparedness you'd have for a prolonged blizzard. We should all make sure, if we're able to, to have enough food, toiletries or supplies on hand to last a couple weeks. We should also be prepared to take care of household members who become sick with it.”

Mills is now the chief health improvement officer for MaineHealth. She says the hospitals of MaineHealth, and others in Maine, have plans in place.

“We've all been working on getting prepared,” she says. “We've had pandemic flu preparedness plans in place for years, so it's simply just double checking that list.”

The things on that list include making sure hospitals have enough respiratory illness and infection control supplies — like respirators and gloves — and that staff is trained to recognize likely cases of COVID-19 and get those patients into private rooms.

Mills also says the best ways to avoid becoming infected with COVID-19 are similar to what you'd do to avoid the flu: wash your hands, wear a mask if you have a cough and stay home if you're sick.