In the past week, all around Windham we’ve seen small shifts towards normalcy. The sun has come out and dirt patches have transformed into garden plots. We’ve seen consistently lower numbers of COVID-19 cases that suggest Maine is successfully flattening the curve. And some of the pandemic response protocols have been loosened. I know we are all anxious to get back to business. We are not out of the woods yet, but we can see some light. Still, as we continue to navigate this unusual time, I wanted to share some updates and resources on the path forward for reopening parts of our community.
I’ve heard from lots of folks around town who are worried about the toll our COVID-19 response is taking on our economy. To help the state reopen as soon as it is safe to do so, the administration announced a set of guiding principles and a phased approach that will allow the Governor, with the help of medical professionals and business owners, to facilitate our reopening. As of May 1, the “Stay Healthy at Home” has been replaced by the “Stay Safer at Home” order. This order outlines a four-stage plan to reopening Maine’s economy, opening more and more kinds of businesses each month, expanding limits on group sizes, and gradually lifting social distancing guidelines over the course of the summer. More details can be found at www.maine.gov/covid19/restartingmaine.
This phased approach is being overseen by the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD), with close involvement from the Maine CDC, medical experts, private sector partners and representatives from the industries that are being reopened to help craft guidance that makes sense for each sector. I know the Governor and her team are constantly weighing public health with the importance of keeping our economy afloat.
It is important to note that the plan to reopen Maine’s economy is not set in stone. Gov. Mills has stressed that as the public health situation changes and as we develop better solutions for the economy, the plan could change and the timeline could be shortened or extended. As part of that, DECD has opened an online portal for Mainers to submit their ideas for how to improve our reopening plan. You can find this at: https://appengine.egov.com/apps/me/decd-suggestions. This feedback along with continued consultation with medical experts and business leaders will help shift the plan into a strategy that works for as many Mainers as possible. Additionally, the Governor is convening an Economic Recovery Committee that will consist of approximately 30 business, community leaders, workers and lawmakers from both parties. This committee will meet virtually over the coming months and will report on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our economy and make recommendations for policy changes to address these impacts. This is a meaningful step in elevating the voices of the business community and other important actors in this difficult decision-making process.
I am proud of our state’s detailed response to COVID-19 and our collaborative adherence to each mandate. It’s our teamwork that has kept Maine’s numbers low. I am grateful to be a part of that team and am here to help when you need it. I am available at 207-287-1430 or email@example.com. If we keep working together, we will get through the rest of this public health crisis and all the ripple effects it brings.
Rep. Bryant is serving in the Maine House of Representatives, representing part of Windham in House District 24. He is a member of the Joint Standing Committee on Transportation and the Joint Standing Committee on State and Local Government. Mark.Bryant@legislature.maine.gov