Gov. Janet Mills convened a coronavirus response team on Monday to coordinate the state’s efforts to limit potential spreading of the virus known as COVID-19.
The risk of the virus in Maine remains low. There are no confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state, and the only person who met federal requirements to be tested for the virus tested negative.
“While there are no cases of coronavirus in Maine as of today, and the risk to our state remains low, the state must be prepared to respond swiftly and effectively to any potential cases in Maine,” Mills said.
Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, is leading the response team, which also includes the commissioners of eight state agencies along with the acting director of the Maine Emergency Management Agency.
Mills on Monday also participated in a nationwide briefing for governors about the federal government’s coronavirus response by Vice President Mike Pence, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar and other federal officials.
Maine CDC began its preparedness and response efforts for COVID-19 in December 2019, when the virus was first reported in Wuhan, China. In two months, it spread across the world. Globally, more than 90,000 people have been infected and about 3,000 have died from respiratory illness. In the U.S, six people have died — all in Washington state — and more than 40 have been infected, according to the Washington Post.
“As we keep working to minimize the risk of community spread, the best thing Maine people can do is take common sense steps to stay healthy, such as frequent hand washing,” Shah said.
Preventive measures for COVID-19 are the same ones that help to avoid catching a cold, including washing hands with soap and water, avoiding contact with people who are sick and staying home in case of sickness.
An adult and a teenager from Rhode Island also were recently identified as having the coronavirus after returning from a school trip to Italy, France and Spain, according to The Associated Press and Boston Globe. If those cases are confirmed by federal health officials, they would be just the third and fourth cases of coronavirus in New England.