Gov. Janet Mills outlined her plan for a "cautious reopening" of Maine's economy on Thursday afternoon.
“We all want life to return to normal as soon as it is safe to do so. Our hearts break to see closed storefronts and people struggling to make ends meet because of this crisis,” Mills said. “At the same time, we all know that reopening too soon and too aggressively is likely to cause a surge in COVID-19 cases, jeopardizing the lives of Maine people, overwhelming our health care system and further destabilizing the economy. None of us wants that.”
She said the state's reopening will be driven by four key principles: protecting public health, maintaining health care readiness, building reliable testing and prioritizing public-private collaboration.
“Science continues to guide Maine’s strategy on COVID-19,” said Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. “Ensuring the health and safety of Maine people, which includes taking steps to reduce the risk of a second surge of the virus, remains our priority.”
The state is asking Maine residents to participate in the reopening process by submitting their ideas through a new web portal launched by the state Department of Economic and Community Development.
"We invite all Maine people to take part in the discussion," Mills said. "Give us your specific ideas on how we can do things differently, how we can restart the economy and keep all our people safe and healthy. We want to hear from you."
Shah said Thursday that there have been five additional deaths as a result of COVID-19. That's the most coronavirus deaths reported in one day in Maine. All five were residents of the Maine Veteran's Home in Scarborough.
Forty-four people in Maine have died of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, with 937 Mainers testing positive.
Shah said 23 of the people who have died of COVID-19 were in long-term care facilities.
These include 42 positive cases at Tall Pines Retirement and Health Care Community in Belfast, 48 at the Maine Veteran's Home facility in Scarborough, 75 at the Augusta Center for Health and Rehabilitation, 18 at Falmouth by the Sea in Falmouth and 11 at the assisted living facility The Cedars in Portland.