Maine Gov. Mills Reports ‘No Symptoms' in Quarantine; Security Guard Tests Positive for COVID-19

Participating in a virtual press briefing, Mill said from her home she was feeling "pretty well" and monitoring her health

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Maine Gov. Janet Mills on Wednesday said she was showing no COVID-19 symptoms while in quarantine, despite a member of her security detail testing positive for the novel coronavirus.

Participating in a virtual press briefing, Mills said from the state’s official governor’s residence, The Blaine House, that she was feeling well and monitoring her health while continuing to work, including planning for the state's distribution of coronavirus vaccines.

"While I have no symptoms -- I'm feeling pretty well -- I'm taking the same steps we advise everyone to else to take when there's been exposure or close contact with someone who may have tested positive," Mills said.

The update came after Mills on Tuesday said she was self-quarantining because the member of her security detail had shown symptoms of the virus. On Wednesday, Mills confirmed that employee had since tested positive for COVID-19.

“While I have not seen this individual since last Saturday and while we always wore masks and kept distances, I am still taking the same steps that Maine people have taken to keep others safe,” said Mills during her Tuesday remarks on her quarantine. 

A press release from Mills’ communication team on Tuesday explained that the governor had been in a vehicle with the security team member over the weekend but for “less than ten minutes.”

"I hope Maine people will join me in wishing that individual -- that member of my team -- the best of health and a full recovery soon," Mills said.

During her quarantine, Mills will meet with her cabinet and staff virtually as she continues to work.

She skipped a swearing in for Maine’s new legislature on Wednesday, designating that job to the state’s acting chief justice, though she addressed attendees by video with a pre-taped message. 

“No one is immune to the spread and impact of this virus,” she said in that message. 

Mills said during Wednesday's press briefing that her exposure to other people outside the immediate team in her office has been limited because so many of her interactions have already gone virtual and been that way for months.

Earlier the head of Maine’s GOP had called on Mills, a democrat, to release additional information on her exposure so the “public can understand” who may be “impacted.”

Also on Wednesday, Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control, said contact tracing was underway following the security guard's positive diagnosis, but that no one else on the security detail was currently in quarantine.

As coronavirus cases rise, Massachusetts has removed two nearby states from its lower-risk travel list.

The remarks come as Maine grapples with a coronavirus spike after months of relatively low positivity rates compared to much of the rest of the country.

Maine health officials said 24 more residents had died since Monday from the coronavirus, bringing the state's death toll to 218.

The state on Wednesday also reported 231 additional cases of COVID-19, bringing the state's total to 12,208.

Mills said her administration was focusing on planning for the distribution of coronavirus vaccines when they become available, calling it a "monumental undertaking."

Mills said she was alarmed that federal authorities had apparently "significantly reduced" the estimated number of Pfizer vaccine doses that were to be made initially available to the state.

According to Mills, that number had been reduced from around 30,000 to 36,000 doses to 12,675 doses, saying that was "far less" than what was needed for the state and urging the Trump administration to address the issue.

Speaking from the Blaine House on Tuesday, the governor said she felt fine but was following guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"This virus is everywhere and no one is immune from exposure with the virus or from the infection itself or from the impacts on our work and daily lives. And I'm no exception," Mills said in a Facebook video Tuesday.

The governor added that she hasn't seen the security team member since last Saturday and they always wore masks around one another. Regardless, Mills is taking the same precautions that other Mainers would be if they potentially come into contact with someone positive for the virus.

Shah said that Mills will quarantine under guidance from her healthcare provider, as well as Maine CDC epidemiologists. Mills said she plans to be in quarantine until Dec. 12. She is scheduled to take a PCR COVID-19 test on Thursday. 

Mills' latest remarks come as the state is set to receive more than $3.3 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help with the costs of personal protective equipment incurred due to the coronavirus pandemic.

FEMA officials said Tuesday the grant is coming to the state as reimbursement for items including disposable non-sterile isolation gowns and disposable isolation units.

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services and Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention distributed the items in response to emergency needs in the state. Maine and the rest of the country have been grappling with a surge in coronavirus cases in recent weeks.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

NECN and Associated Press
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