Gov. Mills tests positive for COVID-19 after experiencing a scratchy throat
Gov. Janet Mills has tested positive for COVID-19, becoming the latest high-profile Maine politician to contract the virus.
The governor's office announced Thursday afternoon that Mills was administered a rapid-result test after coming down with a mildly scratchy throat. The 74-year-old is isolating and was prescribed Paxlovid, which is an anti-viral medication that can be taken orally at home to help prevent the onset of more severe symptoms. Mills had already received both doses of a COVID vaccine as well as two booster shots, the most recent of which was administered roughly three weeks ago.
“This is a good reminder that even though we may want to be done with COVID, it’s not necessarily done with us,” Mills said in a statement. “I’m grateful for the strong protection that the vaccine has provided me, which I believe is one of the reasons why I am still feeling well. I’ll be spending the next few days working remotely, monitoring my symptoms, and fully recovering. I look forward to getting back out when I can and enjoying all that a beautiful Maine spring has to offer. I hope that all eligible Maine people will get vaccinated if they haven’t already, and get a booster dose as well, so as to stay as safe and healthy as possible.”
Mills tested positive for COVID one day after holding a bill-signing ceremony at a senior housing complex in Augusta that was attended by dozens of lawmakers, affordable housing activists and residents of complex. Although the governor wore a mask while others were speaking during the ceremony, she removed her mask while delivering her speech and while signing the two affordable housing bills. Additionally, photos published online by the Kennebec Journal show an unmasked Mills talking and posing for a photo inside the apartment of one resident.
Few of the other official participants at Wednesday’s bill-signing ceremony wore masks during the event, which included tours of some residents’ apartments. Mills’ office did not immediately respond to a question about whether the governor’s office had contacted those with whom Mills may have had close contact during the event, which was held at the Hodgkins School Apartments complex in Augusta.
Earlier this month, Maine Sen. Susan Collins tested positive for COVID as did Congressman Jared Golden of Maine's 2nd District in March. Both Collins and Golden have since recovered. Sen. Angus King also contracted the virus last year, as did both Maine House Speaker Ryan Fecteau and Senate President Troy Jackson.
Cases and hospitalizations with COVID-19 have been trending upward in Maine in recent weeks following a dramatic drop-off earlier this year. On Thursday, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported 464 new infections – although that is an undercount because it doesn’t include the results of at-home testing – as well as 132 hospitalizations. There were 33 COVID patients in critical care but just three individuals connected to ventilators.