Maine Public is committed to keeping you informed with reliable news around the new coronavirus. Here you can find information and resources on the virus and the disease known as COVID-19 — how it arose and spread, recommendations on how to best protect yourself, and other information Mainers might find useful. This guide will be updated periodically.
For the latest developments and news, check out Maine Public's live blog.
For an archive of Maine CDC daily briefing videos, click here.
Last update: 8:12 a.m. Saturday, March 28, 2020.
On the state level, Gov. Janet Mills has issued an executive order ordering all public-facing, nonessential businesses and operations to close their physical locations for two weeks, beginning March 25.
Mills had previously declared a civil emergency in Maine, and recommended ending classroom instruction in all public schools, postponing all nonurgent medical procedures and restricting access to long-term care facilities. The declaration also made low-interest loans available to small companies and not-for-profits available through the federal Small Business Administration.
On the federal level, President Donald Trump has declared a national emergency, freeing up federal money for states to deal with the crisis. He also has ordered the U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico closed to nonessential traffic.
The Senate passed a $2 trillion stimulus package on March 25, the third such package. The House passed and sent the package to the President's desk on Friday, March 27. The federal government previously passed $8.3 billion in funding to combat the new coronavirus. NPR has detailed how that money will be distributed. Maine politicians have said that the state will get at least $4.57 million.
The Finance Authority of Maine has made loans of up to $5,000 per month for up to three months available to Mainers who have lost income due to the coronavirus.
The state CDC is teaming up with the statewide 211 information line to provide operators to answer basic questions about the coronavirus and to direct callers to where they can get answers to more complex questions.
There are 168 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Maine residents. One Maine resident has died from the disease.
The first confirmed cases of the virus were reported in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. Since then the virus has spread throughout Asia, Europe and the United States. There have been over 100,000 U.S. cases reported as of late March. The number of cases in the United States has now surpassed the number of cases in China.
The World Health Organization has officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic.
Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that are relatively common. A novel coronavirus is one that has not been previously identified, like the one all over the news right now. This has been officially named SARS-CoV-2, and it can cause the disease COVID-19, which can be life-threatening.
Symptoms can include fever, cough, difficulty breathing, muscle pain and fatigue. Many of these symptoms are also common symptoms of the flu, so health officials recommend that people get a flu shot so that they are easier to diagnose later, should that be necessary. It can take up to two weeks after initial contact for coronavirus symptoms to become apparent.
There are still some things we don't know about the new coronavirus, but it is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person contact through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Social distancing is thought to be an effective way to prevent spread.
If you suspect you have coronavirus, health officials are asking people to call ahead to your local hospital and not just visit the emergency room.
There is no vaccine or specific treatment for the new coronavirus, though a vaccine may be available as soon as this year. This makes prevention key. There are a few steps that health professionals recommend:
- Social distancing
- Staying home if you're sick
- Avoid gatherings of 10 or more
- Avoiding touching your face to prevent the spread of germs
- Sneezing or coughing into a tissue or your elbow if you must — do not sneeze or cough into your hands
- Washing your hands thoroughly, with soap, for at least 20 seconds after going to the bathroom, before eating and after coughing or sneezing. You can also use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, but washing with soap and water is preferable.
- Disinfecting surfaces you touch frequently throughout the day — think keyboards, light switches, door knobs. Current evidence shows that the coronavirus can live on surfaces for hours to days.
- Avoid unnecessary travel and gatherings
Officials recommend having needed supplies, like prescriptions, and nonperishable foods on hand, the same way you might if a bad storm was expected, although they warn against hoarding supplies and say that it does more harm than good. The fewer times you need to visit a grocery store or like place, the better.
These steps can help you and others stay healthy. The people most vulnerable to the virus are those with compromised immune systems. The CDC has developed a risk assessment guidance that is updated periodically.
As the virus has spread from China, many Asian people have reported increased instances of racism and discrimination "racist bullying against people perceived to be Chinese," according to NPR. And in mid-March, President Trump came under criticism for calling COVID-19 "the Chinese virus." A professor living in San Francisco has started a site dedicated to collecting reports of hate and discrimination against Asian Americans.
NPR published a comic called Just For Kids: A Comic Exploring The New Coronavirus. Many have found it useful to share with anxious or curious people of all ages.
And if, after all that, you need some levity, check out "Coronavirus Fears Have Led To A Golden Age Of Hand-Washing PSAs" — educational and entertaining.
This story was originally published at 9:01 a.m. Tuesday, March 10, 2020.