A coronavirus pandemic emergency order ended on Wednesday for one of the most vaccinated states in the country.
Maine was under a “state of civil emergency” since the early days of the pandemic. Democratic Gov. Janet Mills used the order to use state resources to try to slow the spread of the virus.
On Wednesday, after nearly 200 total COVID-19 briefings, Mills joined Maine Center for Disease Control Director Dr. Nirav Shah and Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew for their last regularly scheduled briefing to announce the end of the order.
“After nearly sixteen long, difficult months, ending the State of Civil Emergency is a welcome milestone that reflects the progress Maine has made in getting people vaccinated and reducing the spread of the virus," Mills said Wednesday, offering her thanks and congratulations to Maine residents.
Mills has called the end of the emergency order a key step for Maine, which has largely reopened its economy and rescinded most mask orders. Nearly 70% of residents who are 20 years of age or older are fully vaccinated against the virus.
“For more than a year, Maine people have faced the extraordinary trials of the pandemic with grace and grit,” said Jeanne Lambrew, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. “The end of the State of Civil Emergency ushers in a new phase in our fight against COVID-19, which continues even as our daily lives begin to return to normal.
Despite the high vaccination rate, officials continue to urge unvaccinated residents to get their shots.
“Readily available vaccination has been the tool that got Maine to this point,” said Dr. Nirav D. Shah, Director of the Maine CDC. “We can stop the virus in its tracks by taking one simple step. Get your shot today.”
Republicans and Democrats in the state have disagreed over whether Mills allowed the order to go on for too long, and whether it gave her too much authority. Most Democrats have defended it as an important part of the state’s response.