AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. Janet Mills asked President Donald Trump to issue a disaster declaration covering all of Maine’s 16 counties, saying recovering from the effects of the new coronavirus is “beyond the capabilities” of state government to handle alone.
Maine would join dozens of other states that have been granted a major disaster declaration as the number of confirmed cases of the virus continue to rise across the country. The declaration provides states with the ability to access additional funding for individuals and public infrastructure. Mills has requested that the declaration be retroactive to Jan. 20.
Mills said in a Wednesday letter to Republican President Donald Trump that she is specifically seeking aid for unemployment, crisis counseling, disaster case management, legal services and child care for all 16 of the state’s counties. The Passamaquoddy Tribe at Pleasant Point has received a similar designation, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
In her letter, the Democratic governor pointed to the state ordering schools to close — calling the impact on students “immeasurable” — and the losses felt by small businesses as examples. Mills also requested additional funding for the Maine National Guard to respond to the virus.
“I have determined that COVID-19 (the disease caused by the virus) will be of such severity that effective recovery is beyond the capabilities of state and local governments,” she wrote.
The move builds on other actions Mills has taken to combat the virus, most notably ordering Maine residents to stay home on Wednesday until the end of April. She has also announced plans to require out-of-state visitors to quarantine themselves if they visit the state.
Maine had 344 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and seven deaths as of Wednesday. The illness has spread to 13 counties with Cumberland and York counties the hardest hit.