If I know folks in Maine, we’re going to make it through this crisis. The coronavirus is here, and it’s going to get worse. As much as I wish we could change that, we can’t.

The question is how we respond. Do we succumb to fear and denial, waste precious time and turn on one another? Or do we stay hopeful, stick to the facts, make smart decisions, slow the spread of the virus and save lives? Since misinformation breeds fear and denial, we must start by getting our information from reliable sources.

The best source of information about COVID-19 is www.cdc.org/coronavirus, the website of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This website has tons of reliable information about how the virus spreads, how you can limit your exposure, and what to do if you show symptoms (don’t just go to the doctor’s office or ER — call first).

The Maine CDC website, www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc, has information about cases in Maine. Another great source of information is 211, which can answer questions about not only the coronavirus, but lots of other issues as well. You can dial 211, call 1-866-811-5695, text your zip code to 898-211 or email info@211maine.org.

On March 17, the Legislature passed emergency measures before suspending our work in response to the coronavirus.

One of the measures expanded unemployment benefits to cover workers harmed by the coronavirus outbreak in Maine. You are now eligible to collect unemployment benefits if your employer temporarily ceases operation due to COVID-19, you’re temporarily laid off because of the outbreak, you are quarantined with the expectation of returning to work once the quarantine is over, or you leave employment due to risk of exposure or infection or to care for a family member. To apply, visit reemployme.maine.gov.

On March 16, the Public Utilities Commission told utility companies that until further notice, they cannot disconnect service or issue disconnection notices for any of their customers. I’m glad the PUC took this important step to provide relief for Maine residents and businesses during this pandemic. For more information, visit www.maine.gov/mpuc/.

Many small businesses are worried about how they will survive financially during the pandemic. Fortunately, the U.S. Small Business Administration has approved Governor Janet Mills’ application for Economic Injury Disaster Loans to help Maine businesses overcome any temporary loss of revenue due to the pandemic by offering low interest loans. Maine was one of the first states in the country to be approved, and Maine small business owners can now begin applying for these loans. For more information, visit sba.gov.

This crisis will get worse before it gets better. And as the crisis worsens, one of the most difficult things is the uncertainty. How bad will it get? What can I do to protect myself and my neighbors? How will I pay my bills? While we don’t know how bad this outbreak will be, we do know concrete steps we can all take to slow its spread (hand washing, social distancing, etc.). If we know where to look, we can find answers to many of our questions.

In addition to the resources I listed here, feel free to contact me anytime at David.Miramant@legislature.maine.gov


(207) 287-1515. Stay safe and healthy.