Coronavirus updates

The Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Island news teams will be regularly updating this page with information about the impact of the coronavirus in and around Hancock County. We want to hear how the virus is affecting you, your family and your business. Email [email protected].

Brooklin, May 27–It’s no secret that the novel coronavirus — besides killing some 100,000 victims in the United States so far — will touch almost every element of summer, including many of Maine’s iconic maritime activities.

In Brooklin, the WoodenBoat School, for the first time since its founding in 1981, will not open for the summer. Story here.

Ellsworth, May 27–It’s now been three months since the last high school sporting event took place in the state of Maine. Three months from now, players, fans and coaches around the state are hoping a new season can provide much-needed cheer and relief to their communities.

In a normal year, such a wait entails a relatively short offseason, a two-week “hands-off” period, two and a half weeks of practice and, then, the first games, matches and meets. Yet the novel coronavirus pandemic has made 2020 anything but a “normal year,” and with efforts being made to limit gatherings and human contact, a return to sports will require a more extensive approach. Story here.

Bar Harbor, May 24– Town staff and the Chamber of Commerce are working on ways to allow downtown businesses to expand operations onto town property this summer as a way to serve more customers without violating physical distancing rules. Story here.

Bar Harbor, May 22– This year’s graduation ceremony at Mount Desert Island High School will be held in the gymnasium parking lot on Sunday, June 7, at 2 p.m. 

The ceremony will be followed by a parade of cars through the communities in which the graduating seniors live. Story here.

Acadia Nat’l Park, May 22–Memorial Day weekend is typically a prime time for people to get out and enjoy the park. But because of restrictions aimed at preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus, recreational options remain limited heading into the three-day weekend. Story here.

Bar Harbor, May 21–The wait for the restroom has begun, Jay Boyce, who manages the Hannaford grocery store, said in an email to the Town Council this week. 

The town’s public restrooms have been closed since the pandemic emergency began in March. A few are reopening this week; the council decided Tuesday to ask the town manager to open them as soon as he deems it is safe to do so. Story here.

Ellsworth, May 21–The Ellsworth Public Library will launch curbside pickup service for library materials on June 1. This is part of a phased reopening plan following careful safety protocols. Story here.

Hancock, May 20–The Monteux School & Music Festival’s board of directors has made the difficult, unanimous decision to cancel the 2020 summer season. This decision comes on the heels of Governor Janet Mills’ extension of the state of civil emergency to May 15. Story here.

Saco, May 20–There will be no Shrine Lobster Bowl this year after officials announced late Tuesday night that they would be canceling this summer’s game. 

The Lobster Bowl, which features the top senior football players from across the state, pits East against West in an all-star game of sorts played at Thornton Academy’s Hill Stadium. This year’s game had been scheduled for July 18. Story here.

Ellsworth, May 20The coronavirus pandemic has forced all kinds of celebrations to be postponed or altered, from funerals to weddings and now, graduation ceremonies. But local officials, working with students, parents, staff, teachers, administrators and community members, have found a way to celebrate graduating seniors, albeit a bit differently than in years past.

There are two dates set for the Ellsworth High School ceremony, June 12, when EHS will hold a virtual graduation ceremony, and Aug. 7, when administrators hope to hold a more traditional one, depending on what state guidance looks like. Story here.

Ellsworth, May 20 –The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Hancock County rose to 11 this week, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a case rate of 2 per 10,000 residents, the fourth lowest in the state. Story here.

Augusta, May 18 –Governor Janet Mills announced today that the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) has eliminated its testing prioritization system and is now allowing health care providers in Maine to seek testing for anyone they suspect of having COVID-19.  

The elimination of the system is primarily driven by the Mills Administration’s agreement with IDEXX that more than triples the State’s texting capacity. That expansion is now operational, allowing Maine CDC to notify health care providers today of significantly increased access to in-state testing for anyone suspected of having the disease, which includes people with symptoms as well as those who have had significant, close contact with a person with COVID-19, such as a spouse.

Prior to today’s change, Maine CDC had implemented a testing prioritization system for individuals in high-risk categories, as most state labs have done due to the limited national supply of testing materials. Under the previous system, individuals who were tested must have been symptomatic (fever or respiratory symptoms) and fall into one of the following high-risk categories: 1) those who are hospitalized; 2) health care workers; 3) first responders; 4) those living in a congregate setting; 5) patients older than 60 years; and 6) patients with underlying medical conditions. 

Under the new alert sent to health care providers today, the State has eliminated these categories to allow for testing of all people in Maine with symptoms as well as people without symptoms who may be at risk of transmitting COVID-19 to others, including  close contacts of confirmed cases, health care workers in contact with a confirmed case, and people tested as part of voluntary sentinel disease surveillance plan under development by the Maine CDC. The breakthrough will also allow the State to continue to implement universal testing in congregate living settings with an outbreak, such as nursing facilities and shelters. 

The Mills Administration is continuing its efforts to secure more testing as part of its ongoing commitment to Maine’s public health. Additionally, the Mills Administration continues to press the Federal government to ensure that health care providers have a reliable and adequate supply of materials, such as personal protective equipment and swabs to collect samples from patients for testing.

Bar Harbor, May 17 –An employee of Birch Bay Retirement Village has tested positive for COVID-19, the illness resulting from the novel coronavirus. Mount Desert Island Hospital reported Saturday evening that the staff member is currently in isolation at home. Story here.

Mount Desert, May 16 –Because of an anticipated drop in municipal revenue caused by the coronavirus crisistaxpayers here likely will not get quite as much of a break next fiscal year as town officials had hoped to give them. Story here.

Bar Harbor, May 15 –This year’s graduation ceremony at Mount Desert Island High School will be held in the gymnasium parking lot on Sunday, June 7, at 2 p.m., Principal Matt Haney announced Friday. Story here.

The ceremony will be followed by a parade of cars through the communities in which the graduating seniors live.

Mount Desert Island, May 14 – Statement from the Northeast Harbor Library: After many meetings with the Maine State Library, following Governor Janet Mills and CDC guidelines and several meetings with each other, we are pleased to announce that the Jesup Memorial Library, The Northeast Harbor Library and the Southwest Harbor Public Library  have decided to enter Stage 2 in June  and will all offer curbside pick up. Please go to the library websites for further information.  www.jesuplibrary.orgwww.nehlibrary.org and www.swhplibrary.org.  We are all excited to be able to offer you materials from our various establishments and try to bring a sense of normalcy back to our communities.

Bar Harbor, May 14 – No one knows for sure at this point, but there is a good chance that when the new school year begins in late August, the buildings will remain closed and teaching and learning will continue remotely. 

No one wants that, but Marc Gousse, superintendent of the Mount Desert Island Regional School System, says he and other administrators, including the school principals, will be working on contingency plans.  Story here. 

Northeast Harbor, May 12 –The annual Memorial Day parade, organized by the Northeast Harbor American Legion Post No. 103, has been canceled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic and the inability for large groups to gather.  

Ellsworth, May 12 –Hopes to see games played at diamonds across the state this summer have taken a further hit following two recent cancellations.

No Little League baseball or softball champions will be crowned this year after state administrators made the decision last Friday to cancel the 2020 state tournament. The American Legion season is also a no-go after the American Legion National Association announced Monday it would be canceling all games across the country. Story here

Acadia Nat’l Park, May 10 –The meeting of the Acadia Advisory Commission scheduled for June 1 has been postponed indefinitely because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Story here

Bar Harbor, May 10 – A proposal to close parts of downtown streets to traffic this summer to allow restaurants and retail stores to use some sidewalk and street space met with unanimous support Tuesday from the Town Council. Story here.

Brooksville, May 9– Flash! in the Pans and Planet Pan steel bands will not be performing this summer due to COVID-19 and Maine’s ‘stay safer’ regulations. Nonprofit organizations that were scheduled to host benefit street dances this summer will keep their dates for summer 2021. Story here.

Mount Desert, May 9–The town’s Summer Residents Association (SRA) is aiming to raise $500,000 to help local businesses survive the loss of revenue caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Story here.

Bar Harbor, May 9– Friends of Acadia’s annual benefit dinner and auctionwhich is always the largest and most successful fundraising event on Mount Desert Islandwill not be held under enormous tents on the lawn at the Asticou Inn in Northeast Harbor this year.  

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be no dinner, and the auction will be conducted virtually Aug. 8. Story here.

Trenton, May 9– Because of health concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the board of selectmen voted Tuesday night to postpone the municipal election and open floor town meeting, originally scheduled for May 18-19, to a date to be determined. 

Ellsworth, May 8– Like many organizations, the Down East Family YMCA has had a challenging spring due to the novel coronavirus. Fortunately for one of Hancock County’s largest institutions, a restart is on the horizon. Story here.

Bar Harbor, May 8 – Hancock County golf courses spend every spring at the mercy of the weather. This year, they’ve been at the mercy of a pandemic as well. 

Whereas social distancing guidelines haven’t stopped Mainers from engaging in many outdoor activities throughout the early spring, golfers have spent much of it unable to do so. With the sport designated as a nonessential service, golf courses throughout Maine were closed from April 2-30 following Governor Janet Mills’ initial stay-at-home order.  

Since Friday, though, Maine’s golf courses have been free to open as the state enters the first phase of the reopening process Governor Mills announced last Tuesday. The impact of a lost month has varied from golf course to golf course, but as they get back to business with restrictions, they’re looking to take advantage as golfers get ready to hit the greens.  Story here.

Ellsworth, May 8 –Hancock County recorded its first death of a person who tested positive for coronavirus this week, a man in his 60s, according to figures released on Friday by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The county had recorded 10 cases as of Friday, nine of which were listed by the CDC as recovered. Story here.

Ellsworth, May 8 –Some restaurants and retail stores in Hancock County will be allowed to open several weeks earlier than expected, starting this Monday, said Governor Janet Mills at a press briefing on Friday.

With precautions such as physical distancing and enhanced cleaning, retail stores will be able to open on Monday, May 11, in counties where community transmission of coronavirus has not been found, including Aroostook, Piscataquis, Washington, Somerset, Franklin, Oxford, Kennebec, Waldo, Knox, Lincoln and Sagadahoc. Story here.

Bar Harbor, May 7 –Despite concerns expressed by several members of the Mount Desert Island Regional School System board, the board voted unanimously Monday evening to approve Superintendent Marc Gousse’s recommendation to end the school year June 5, a few days ahead of schedule. Story here.

Augusta, May 7 –The state will partner with Maine-based IDEXX Laboratories Inc. to purchase enough of the company’s recently authorized COVID-19 testing kits to more than triple Maine’s testing capacity, Governor Janet Mills announced Thursday. Story here.

Augusta, May 7 – Governor Janet Mills announced today that her Administration has secured a major expansion of COVID-19 testing for the State of Maine. The Administration has partnered with Maine-based IDEXX Laboratories, Inc. to purchase enough of the company’s recently authorized COVID-19 testing kits to more than triple the State’s testing capacity. The breakthrough will soon allow anyone in Maine suspected of having COVID-19 to receive a test.

IDEXX, a worldwide leader in animal diagnostics, also has deep expertise in human diagnostics through its human health business, OPTI Medical Systems. Earlier today, IDEXX announced the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted OPTI Medical Systems an Emergency Use Authorization for IDEXX’s OPTI SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR laboratory test kit for the detection of the 2019 novel coronavirus. The Mills Administration is purchasing enough of these test kits to run at least 5,000 tests per week for the foreseeable future.

This significant expansion of testing will ultimately allow Maine CDC to eliminate its testing prioritization system, which most states have had to implement as a result of the limited national supply of testing materials. After testing with the new instrument and materials is operational, which is expected as early as the end of next week, health care providers in Maine will be able to seek testing for anyone they suspect of having COVID-19.

The expansion of testing is also crucial to gradually restarting the economy and is one of the four guiding principles in the Governor’s vision for reopening Maine. 

Bar Harbor, May 7The debate over when and how to welcome tourists this season has set business owners who are afraid that their businesses could fail against those who worry that easing restrictions could bring a catastrophic spike in COVID-19 cases. 

How to represent local concerns to Augusta, when strong differences of opinion persist about which state actions would be best for Bar Harbor and Mount Desert Island, also remains a contested question. 

But elected officials and business leaders are urging cooperation. Story here.

Statewide, May 7Maine’s phased reopening plan relies on detecting and isolating people infected with the coronavirus, but public health experts say the testing regime envisioned by the state is likely too small to accomplish that. 

Gov. Janet Mills’ four-stage plan announced last week cautiously opens parts of Maine’s economy step by step, with state officials ready to halt the process or reimpose restrictions if they see indications the virus is spreading rather than retreating.  Story here.

Ellsworth, May 6With state and national guidance encouraging the use of cloth masks in public to prevent the spread of COVID-19, several community volunteers are working together to provide masks for those in need.

Volunteer mask makers and Ellsworth Public Library collaborated to create a Masks for Hancock County, Maine Facebook page. This program is dedicated to connecting community members in the Ellsworth area and surrounding towns with fabric face masks. Story here.

Ellsworth, May 6In a 6-0 vote, with one councilor absent, Ellsworth city councilors approved a resolution on Monday to send a letter asking Governor Janet Mills to do away with travel restrictions into the state, including the proposed 14-day quarantine, and allow all businesses to open immediately, “with the implementation of appropriate safety measures.”

“The phased-in plan really presented some significant roadblocks,” said Council Chairman Dale Hamilton. While many larger businesses have been able to stay open during the pandemic, Hamilton noted, most smaller ones have had to close. Story here.

Bar Harbor, May 5The Jackson Laboratory released a new explainer video today, this one about the different types of testing being done in the coronavirus pandemic. Video here.

Ellsworth, May 5 I’m coming back to Maine after wintering in Arizona. Can I go grocery shopping and get gas while observing my 14-day quarantine?

The answer, at least legally, appears to be yes, said District Attorney Matt Foster in an email this week.

“It looks pretty clear to me,” said Foster, citing Executive Order 34FY 19/20, issued by Governor Janet Mills on April 3. Story here.

Ellsworth, May 4The first stage of Governor Janet Mills’ plans to gradually reopen Maine’s economy began Friday, May 1.

Industries approved for re-opening include guided hunting, fishing, boating and outdoor activities, as well as marinas.

Guided fishing businesses are permitted to have no more than 10 customers per trip, not including crew members. Also, the Governor’s plan requires that out-of-state customers quarantine for 14 days before taking part in a guided trip. Story here.

Bar Harbor, May 4The 2020 season of the fare-free Island Explorer bus system, which serves Acadia National Park and surrounding communities, is being postponed indefinitely because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The season typically begins Memorial Day weekend on the Schoodic Peninsula and June 23 on Mount Desert Island, and it runs through the second Monday in October. Story here.

Ellsworth, May 1The Ellsworth City Council will hold an emergency meeting Monday, May 4 at 6:30 p.m via remote access.  Citizens may email questions and public comments on the agenda items to be heard this evening to Chair Dale Hamilton at [email protected] prior to and throughout the duration of the meeting.  The meeting will be broadcast live on the City of Ellsworth, Maine Facebook page and YouTube Page; as well as recorded and made available live on Spectrum Channel 1303.

Brooksville, May 1The Brooksville Free Public Library is closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak but continues to offer various services to the community. They include: drop in tech help from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. every Wednesday via phone or video chat. Sign up with Brook at [email protected] or 207-479-3933. Also included are: children’s book readings on the Facebook page, access to WiFi outside the Townhouse Building (please keep a six foot difference from anyone else not in your household), reference services, shared audio and e-book collection, Maine Digital Library access and more. Please keep all library materials at home for now and do not use the book drop. If you receive an email overdue notice, please just ignore it for now.

Mount Desert, April 30 “We would like to be able to share our gardens with you this summer if it does not jeopardize the safety and health of anyone,” Rodney Eason, CEO of the Land & Garden Preserve, said in an April 23 posting on the organization’s website. 

The preserve owns and maintains Asticou Azalea Garden, Thuya Garden and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Garden, all in Northeast Harbor. 

As of now, Eason said, the gardens remain closed and the gates are locked.  Story here.

Blue Hill, April 29 The Blue Hill Peninsula Chamber of Commerce has closed its office on South Street but has a plan to reach visitors and provide more direct support to members going forward.

COVID-19 hastened the office’s closure, but the plan had been in the works for a while, said Chrissy Allen, chamber board president. Story here.

Ellsworth, April 29 No cruise ships with more than 50 passengers. Required 14-day quarantine for those coming from out of state. The plans for reopening Maine’s economy are likely to have an outsize effect on the state’s tourist sector, Governor Janet Mills acknowledged at a press briefing on Tuesday afternoon.

“There will be losses, inevitable losses,” Mills said. “The whole country is facing this.”

Mills announced Tuesday that the state will phase in its reopening on a month-by-month basis, in four stages, with the first stage beginning in May, the second in June, the third in July and August and the fourth at an undetermined time. Story here.

Ellsworth, April 28  The Maine Department of Labor has announced it will begin accepting applications for the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program at 8 a.m. Friday, May 1. Applicants whose claims do not require further review should begin receiving benefits within seven days of filing. Story here.

As of Monday, April 27, the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state stood at 1,015, with 432 active cases, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control (CDC). Nine cases have been confirmed in Hancock County, including four Hancock County residents who have recovered from the virus and one resident who has been hospitalized.

The state has recorded 51 deaths from the virus; 532 residents have recovered and 159 have been hospitalized at some point during their illness. A total of 16,784 tests have come back negative and 238 healthcare workers had tested positive as of Friday, April 24.

Current hospitalizations: 39

Current ICU bed use: 19 

Current number of patients on ventilators: 7

Update on vital gear as of Monday, April 27:

Total number of intensive care unit beds: 329

Number of intensive care unit beds available: 162

Total number of ventilators: 315

Number of ventilators available: 296

For more information on frequently asked questions about the situation in Maine, including information on schools, businesses and testing, click here.

Bar Harbor, April 25 The College of the Atlantic campus is normally a hub of activity in the summer, with programs for children and high school students, boat trips, lecture series and events organized by outside groups. 

This year, with the campus closed for the spring term and likely at least into June as a health precaution, most of those programs have been canceled or are switching to online formats, college spokesman Rob Levin said this week. Story here.

Mount Desert Island, April 25 It’s going to take a lot of planning, and some creativity, for the seasonal tourism industry here to operate at all this year as the coronavirus threat continues. Town officials and Chambers of Commerce are beginning to discuss how best to coordinate that planning. 

A statewide ban on nonessential travel and closures of most lodging and restaurant facilities are in place through at least the end of this month, and perhaps longer.  Story here.

Ellsworth, April 23–Governor Janet Mills on Thursday said that she has yet to decide whether to renew her stay-at-home order or to allow it to expire on April 30.

But it is clear that “things will not return to normal soon,” she said at a press briefing April 23.

Of her state-healthy-at-home mandate issued March 31, she said, “We have no plan yet to either renew it or let it expire, but we will be reviewing it.” Story here.

As of Wednesday, April 22, the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state stood at 907, with 413 active cases, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control (CDC). Seven cases have been confirmed in Hancock County, including two Hancock County residents who have recovered from the virus and one resident who is hospitalized.

The state has recorded 39 deaths from the virus; 455 residents have recovered and 145 have been hospitalized at some point during their illness. A total of 16,784 tests have come back negative and 222 healthcare workers have tested positive.

Current hospitalizations: 42

Current ICU bed use: 18 

Current number of patients on ventilators: 10

Update on vital gear as of Wednesday, April 22:

Total number of intensive care unit beds: 314

Number of intensive care unit beds available: 170

Total number of ventilators: 333

Number of ventilators available: 277

For more information on frequently asked questions about the situation in Maine, including information on schools, businesses and testing, click here.

Acadia Nat’l Park, April 22–Acadia officials have announced that the park’s visitor centers and campgrounds will open later than usual this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Hulls Cove Visitor Center, which usually opens May 1, will remain closed until at least June 1. The Sieur de Monts Visitor Center, which normally opens the first Saturday in May, will not open for the season until at least June 15. Story here.

Ellsworth, April 22–Everyone — from struggling small business owners to parents learning the rigors of homeschooling — wants to know when we can get back to work and when the economy can reopen again.

Officials around the country have been reluctant to issue timelines, but there’s one thing that absolutely has to happen before the country can safely reopen, said Edison Liu, president and CEO of the Jackson Laboratory.

“The only way to do it is testing, massive testing,” said Liu in a video interview last week. Story here.

Ellsworth, April 22–Director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Dr. Nirav Shah had a message for those in rural Maine this week: Don’t get complacent because of the low number of confirmed cases in your area.

“We are still very much in the middle of this, and what I hope doesn’t happen is that we see a secondary bump in cases in rural parts of the state,” said Shah, particularly because “health-care providers may not have the same degree of resources” as those in more densely populated urban areas. Story here.

Ellsworth, April 22–With a U.S. Senate-passed $484 billion COVID-19 economic relief package awaiting action in the House of Representatives and a promised signature by President Donald Trump, the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association, Maine Lobstermen’s Association and the Maine Aquaculture Association will host a COVID Financial Relief Webinar aimed directly at fishermen on Thursday, April 23 at 4 p.m. Story here.

Ellsworth, April 21–Social Security beneficiaries and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients who don’t file tax returns will start receiving their automatic Economic Impact Payments directly from the Treasury Department soon, according to Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul.

People receiving benefits who did not file 2018 or 2019 taxes, and have qualifying children under age 17, however, should not wait for their automatic $1,200 individual payment. They should immediately go to the IRS’s webpage at https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/non-filers-enter-payment-info-here and visit the Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here section to provide their information. Social Security retirement, survivors, and disability insurance beneficiaries with dependent children and who did not file 2018 or 2019 taxes need to act by Wednesday, April 22, in order to receive additional payments for their eligible children quickly. SSI recipients need to take this action by later this month; a specific date will be available soon. Story here.

Mount Desert, April 21– The May 4 municipal election and May 5 open floor town meeting have been postponed until “a date uncertain” because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Board of Selection made that decision Monday on the recommendation of Town Manager Durlin Lunt. Story here.

As of Monday, April 20, the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state stood at 875, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control (CDC), with six cases in Hancock County, including one Hancock County resident who has recovered from the virus and one resident who is hospitalized.

The state has recorded 35 deaths from the virus; 414 residents have recovered and 138 have been hospitalized at some point during their illness. 

Current hospitalizations: 39

Current ICU bed use: 16 

Current number of patients on ventilators: 9

Update on vital gear as of Monday, April 20:

Total number of intensive care unit beds: 316

Number of intensive care unit beds available: 152

Total number of ventilators: 336

Number of ventilators available: 287

For more information on frequently asked questions about the situation in Maine, including information on schools, businesses and testing, click here.

Bar Harbor, April 20– On Monday, Superintendent Marc Gousse recommended the proposed prekindergarten programs in three of the district’s elementary schools be put on temporary hold due to uncertainty surrounding when these towns will hold their annual town meetings.  Story here.

Bar Harbor, April 18 – These days, before customers come in to First Express on Cottage Street to mail a package, some will call and ask owner, Jen Cough, ‘what’s the protocol?’ 

Even though she has adjusted some of the business’s practices to keep customers and herself safe during the COVID19 pandemic, Cough encourages callers to use common sense.  

Pre-paid packages can be left outside the business for her to retrieve. For packages that need to be weighed, labeled, taped up and shipped, Cough is doing more of the work than her customers are these days.  Story here.

Bar Harbor, April 17 –Acadia National Park, in response to guidance from the State of Maine Department of Health and Human Services, is announcing additional modifications to operations to support federal, state, and local efforts to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. Story here.

As of Friday, April 17, the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state stood at 827, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control (CDC), with six cases in Hancock County, including one Hancock County resident who has recovered from the virus and one resident who is hospitalized.

The state has recorded 29 deaths from the virus; 352 residents have recovered and 133 have been hospitalized at some point during their illness. As of Tuesday, 166 healthcare workers were confirmed to have tested positive and a total of 14,076 tests had come back negative. The CDC reported that 28 patients who had tested positive for COVID-19 are currently being cared for in intensive care units and that eight patients are on ventilators. An additional 27 patients who have tested positive are being cared for in other hospital settings.

Update on vital gear as of  Friday, April 17:

Total number of intensive care unit beds: 321

Number of intensive care unit beds available: 151

Total number of ventilators: 344

Number of available ventilators: 309

Number of alternative ventilators: 240

Number of respiratory therapists: 130

For more information on frequently asked questions about the situation in Maine, including information on schools, businesses and testing, click here.

 

Augusta, April 17 – Governor Janet Mills issued the following statement in response to the President’s Guidelines for Opening Up America Again:

“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. At the same time, we all know that reopening too soon and too aggressively will likely cause a secondary surge in COVID 19 cases, jeopardizing the lives of Maine people and further destabilizing the economy. None of us want that. I have been speaking with a number of economic leaders, including the President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. Their message is clear: the most important thing we can do to turn the economy around is to defeat the virus.

“As the President acknowledges, the Governors are in charge of reopening their states’ economies and gradually lifting public health restrictions. Here in Maine, we too are planning a phased-in reopening, tailored to the demographics and various economic sectors of our state. Ultimately, the protocols we adopt, made after consulting with people from all parts of the state, will be guided by fact, science and public health expertise.  As the President’s guidelines note, widespread testing, personal protective equipment, and contact tracing are critical to lifting restrictions and reviving the economy; for that reason, the nation’s governors yesterday again urged the Federal government to ensure that all states have these resources.

“I remain in contact with Governor Sununu of New Hampshire and Governor Scott of Vermont regarding actions that may be appropriate for the northern New England region. My Administration, through the Department of Economic and Community Development, has been connecting with individual economic sectors across the state to devise a plan for how we gradually reopen the Maine economy. Those decisions, of course, are driven first and foremost by the need to protect the public health. We will release details of the plan in the near future.”

As of Thursday, April 16, the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state stood at 796, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control (CDC), with 5 cases in Hancock County.

The state has recorded 27 deaths from the virus; 333 residents have recovered and 130 have been hospitalized at some point during their illness. As of Tuesday, 166 healthcare workers were confirmed to have tested positive and a total of 14,076 tests had come back negative. The CDC reported that 20 patients who had tested positive for COVID-19 are currently being cared for in intensive care units and that seven patients are on ventilators. An additional 47 patients who have tested positive are being cared for in other hospital settings.

Update on vital gear as of  Thursday, April 16:

Total number of intensive care unit beds: 319

Number of intensive care unit beds available: 158

Total number of ventilators: 344

Number of available ventilators: 313

Number of alternative ventilators: 240

Number of respiratory therapists: 130

For more information on frequently asked questions about the situation in Maine, including information on schools, businesses and testing, click here.

 

Bar Harbor, April 16 —Barring an unexpectedly quick end to the coronavirus threat, the schools in the Mount Desert Island Regional School System (MDIRSS) will remain closed for the rest of the school year. 

That is to say, the school buildings will stay closed, but remote learning, which has been going on for a few weeks now, will continue.  Story here.

As of Wednesday, April 15, the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state stood at 770, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control (CDC), with 5 cases in Hancock County. The state postponed a media briefing scheduled for 2 p.m. to respond to an explosion at the Androscoggin Mill in Jay.

The state has recorded 24 deaths from the virus; 305 residents have recovered and 126 have been hospitalized at some point during their illness. As of Tuesday, 166 healthcare workers were confirmed to have tested positive and a total of 14,076 tests had come back negative. The CDC reported that 22 patients who had tested positive for COVID-19 are currently being cared for in intensive care units and that nine patients are on ventilators. An additional 26 patients who have tested positive are being cared for in other hospital settings.

Update on vital gear as of  Wednesday, April 15:

Total number of intensive care unit beds: 314

Number of intensive care unit beds available: 147

Total number of ventilators: 344

Number of available ventilators: 304

Number of alternative ventilators: 240

Number of respiratory therapists: 130

For more information on frequently asked questions about the situation in Maine, including information on schools, businesses and testing, click here.

 

Bar Harbor, April 15 —Local testing for the new coronavirus will be able to be stepped up as Mount Desert Island Hospital has received a new piece of equipment able to determine results within an hour and The Jackson Laboratory announced a plan to partner with Maine hospitals to analyze patient samples at its Connecticut facility. 

Three confirmed cases of the virus have been reported from patient samples collected at Mount Desert Island Hospital’s testing facility. Of the three, only one is a Hancock County resident. As of Wednesday morning, no new positive cases have been reported since April 7, hospital spokesperson Oka Hutchins said.  Story here.

Ellsworth, April 15 —The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Hancock County rose to five this week as Governor Janet Mills extended a state of civil emergency through May 15, enabling her to continue using executive powers to respond to the pandemic.

Statewide, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had confirmed 734 cases as of early Wednesday morning and 20 deaths. Story here.

Ellsworth, April 15 —Stimulus payments of up to $1,200 per individual should be arriving in the bank accounts of those who have direct deposit beginning this week, certified public accountant Susan Chappell told audience members during a Zoom meeting hosted by Heart of Ellsworth and Machias Savings Bank on Friday.

That timeline could be quite a bit longer, however, if you don’t have direct deposit set up with the IRS, said Chappell, possibly as late as August or September. Story here. 

 

As of Tuesday, April 14, the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state stood at 734, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control (CDC), with 5 cases in Hancock County.

The state has recorded 20 deaths from the virus; 292 residents have recovered and 124 have been hospitalized at some point during their illness. The Maine CDC is no longer reporting the number of negative tests because outside labs testing samples from Maine makes getting an accurate figure difficult, according to the CDC website.

Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine CDC, noted on Monday that 61 residents were hospitalized, 22 of whom were in intensive care units and 9 of whom were on ventilators.

As of Monday, 110 health care workers (which the state defines in very broad terms) had tested positive, according to Dr. Shah. The CDC is also tracking outbreaks at several long-term care facilities, including at the Center for Health and Rehabilitation in Augusta, the Tall Pines Retirement and Health Care Community in Belfast and the Maine Veterans’ Homes facility in Scarborough.

Update on vital gear as of Monday, April 13:

Total number of intensive care unit beds: 314

Number of intensive care unit beds available: 158

Total number of ventilators: 562 (including 234 alternative ventilators)

Number of traditional ventilators available: 283

Number of respiratory therapists: 130

For more information on frequently asked questions about the situation in Maine, including information on schools, businesses and testing, click here.

 

Mount Desert Island, April 13 —With Mainers being urged to stay home to prevent the spread of coronavirus, many people are connecting online. The internet has been used over the past few weeks to connect people socially, as well as to needed services, education, church, and exercise and art classes. 

This is not an option for everyone. Latest figures from the U.S. census show that 11.6 percent of households in Hancock County have no computer, and 21.5 percent of households have no broadband internet. These figures were tallied between 2014 and 2018.  

For those who cannot go online to get the services they need, help is a phone call away. “That’s what we deal with on a regular basis,” said Jennifer Sheaff, Community Outreach and Programs Coordinator at Eastern Maine Area Agency on Aging. “We work with people who are not computer literate, or who live in remote areas where there’s no access.”  Story here.

Blue Hill, April 13 — If you’ve been inside your local grocery store over the past several days, chances are you’ve noticed a number of changes.

Perhaps you’ve noticed sneeze guards protecting cashiers at registers; signs explaining reduced capacity limitations; lines of tape indicating 6 feet of space between customers, many of whom are wearing cloth masks to cover their faces. Story here.

Bucksport, April 13 —The town of Bucksport is providing direct, immediate financial aid to its residents and small businesses whose livelihoods have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Town Council April 2 voted unanimously to offer support to residents who have been laid off in the form of $150 grocery gift cards. The council is also providing $600 grants to Bucksport businesses that have been affected. The stipulation for receiving a grant is the business was either forced to close or had a loss in revenue of at least 25 percent due to the state of emergency. Story here.

As of Friday, April 10, the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state stood at 586, according to the Maine Centers for Disease Control (CDC), with 4 cases in Hancock County. The state has recorded 17 deaths from the virus; 246 residents have recovered and 111 have been hospitalized at some point during their illness.

Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine CDC, also noted on Friday that 57 residents are currently hospitalized, 20 of whom are in intensive care units. Shah also noted that the CDC has also determined that community transmission is now occurring in Penobscot County.

On Thursday, Shah reported that 13 Maine residents have tested positive out of state and 17 non-residents have tested positive while in Maine. Dr. Shah also reported on Thursday that 43 of the then-560 cases have been among individuals in congregate living situations, such as group homes, long-term care facilities and shelters. As of earlier in the week, 97 health care workers had tested positive, which Dr. Shah said Thursday is in line with the proportion in other countries, such as Italy.

Bar Harbor, April 10 —The federal government is instructing cruise ships not to sail until the coronavirus public health emergency is over, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced late Thursday.

Federal and state agencies have been doing too much of the work of responding to passenger illness on cruise ships, officials said, and those government resources are urgently needed elsewhere during the pandemic crisis. Story here.

Blue Hill, April 10 —Union 93 schools will continue educating students remotely through the end of this school year, according to Superintendent Mark Hurvitt.

Hurvitt sent a letter to the community Friday afternoon. Union 93 consists of Blue Hill, Surry, Sedgwick, Castine and Brooksville. Story here.

Update on vital gear as of Thursday, April 9:

Total number of intensive care unit beds: 308

Number of intensive care unit beds available: 149

Total number of ventilators: 565 (including 232 alternative ventilators)

Number of ventilators available: 515

Number of respiratory therapists: 130

For more information on frequently asked questions about the situation in Maine, including information on schools, businesses and testing, click here.

Bar Harbor, April 9 —Members of the Town Council have been hearing from their constituents a lot lately. 

People are concerned about how to protect the local population and rural medical resources from being overloaded as the coronavirus crisis continues. But some also are beginning to plan and prepare for “a stark downturn in tourism,” as Councilor Gary Friedmann put it, “that’s going to pummel our local economy.” 

The council voted unanimously Tuesday to extend the existing suspension of cruise ship visits here through the end of June, but members noted that the ships are not the only “potential vector” for spread of the virus as summer approaches. Story here.

Ellsworth, April 8 —State police are asking residents to comply with Governor Janet Mills’ executive order to stay home unless they have an essential need to go out.

The order, issued to halt spread of the coronavirus, is in effect until April 30. Story here.

Ellsworth, April 8 —Maine children may not return to class this school year and the June primary could be pushed to July, state officials announced this week.

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) on Wednesday recommended that schools remain closed through the end of the 2019-20 school year to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. Story here.

As of Wednesday, April 8, the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state stood at 537, according to the Maine Centers for Disease Control (CDC), with 3 cases in Hancock County. The state had recorded 14 deaths from the virus; 187 residents had recovered and 101 had been hospitalized at some point during their illness.

Update on vital gear as of Wednesday, April 8:

Total number of intensive care unit beds: 305

Number of intensive care unit beds available: 154

Total number of ventilators: More than 330

Number of ventilators available: 282

Number of alternative ventilators available: 233

Number of respiratory therapists: 130

For more information on frequently asked questions about the situation in Maine, including information on schools, businesses and testing, click here

Statewide, April 7 — Governor Janet Mills directed the Maine National Guard and the Maine Emergency Management Agency to work with Maine’s health care systems to open two alternative care sites at Cross Insurance Arenas in Portland and Bangor as part of preparations to bolster the state’s health system capacity in the face of COVID-19.

The Bangor site will have 50 beds while the Portland site is slated for 100 beds. These alternative care sites will free up hospital beds, if needed, to accommodate a potential surge of COVID-19 patients in the coming weeks.

“Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center has developed a surge plan that will provide care for up to 250 COVID-19 positive patients, and up to 90 other patients (COVID-19 or non-COVID-19) requiring ventilator support,” said Tim Dentry, President and CEO of Northern Light Health, in a press release. “Additionally, we continue to work with our region’s healthcare partners, and city, county, and state officials on a potential site for additional temporary surge beds if required.”

Statewide, April 6— Statement From Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul About COVID-19 Economic Impact Payments For Beneficiaries:

The Department of the Treasury announced on April 1 that Social Security beneficiaries who are not typically required to file tax returns will not need to file an abbreviated tax return to receive an economic impact payment. The IRS will use the information on the Form SSA-1099 to generate $1,200 economic impact payments to Social Security beneficiaries who did not file tax returns in 2018 or 2019.

Treasury, not Social Security, will make automatic payments to Social Security beneficiaries. Beneficiaries will receive these payments by direct deposit or by paper check, just as they would normally receive their Social Security benefits.

For updates from the IRS, visit www.irs.gov/coronavirus.

Note for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Recipients:

We are working closely with Treasury to address outstanding questions about our SSI recipients in an attempt to make the issuance of economic impact payments as quick and efficient as possible. We realize people are concerned, and the IRS will provide additional information at www.irs.gov/coronavirus when available. Please note that we will not consider economic impact payments as income for SSI recipients, and the payments are excluded from resources for 12 months.

We will continue to update Social Security’s COVID-19 web page at www.socialsecurity.gov/coronavirus/ as further details become available.”

To get more Social Security news, follow the Press Office on Twitter @SSAPress.

Brooklin, April 5—Aaron Porter, editor of Professional Boatbuilder magazine, sent a plea last week to professional or hobby boatbuilders to donate N95 masks to medical facilities, in light of the current shortage. 

If you have any spare, or even not-so-spare, N95 designated dust masks in your shop or inventory, find them today and donate them to your closest medical facility,” he wrote. “I passed my last 10-mask sleeve off to a favorite medical practitioner last weekend. Her gratitude and fear were palpable. Her clinic had one N95 her size in stock, and the inevitable wave of coronavirus patients in our city had not even started yet. Story here.

Ellsworth, April 5—The leader of The Jackson Laboratory is applauding the additional “Stay Healthy at Home” measures announced Tuesday by Governor Janet Mills to limit the spread of COVID-19 in Maine. 

Preliminary models of the disease progression in Maine so far, Edison Liu said in a video event hosted by the Ellsworth Public Library, show a peak sometime in the third week of April.  Story here.

Ellsworth, April 3—Beginning March 28, the Maine State Ferry Service has reduced its schedule because of significant” drop in riders and to help minimize the spread of COVID-19. The service reduction will remain in effect until further notice. Story here.

Bar Harbor, April 3—The common theme heard from every bank official interviewed for this article is: if you are having financial trouble, call your bank or lenderLocal banks have a variety of programs and resources to help customers through hard times. 

Camden National Bank is offering a 90-day deferral on loans, according to Chief Marketing Officer Renee Smyth. It’s not an application, she stressed; just a form for the customer to sign. Story here.

Mount Desert Island, April 3— School buildings are closed, but kids can still have fun on the playgrounds, right? Well, it might not be safe. Local school officials recommend not using playground equipment these days because it has not been disinfected to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

Bar Harbor, April 3—As a psychiatrist, Dr. Rebekah Villarreal is concerned about people who had been dealing with mental health problems before the coronavirus scare came along. 

“I worry that, for patients who are already anxious or depressed, the coronavirus can exacerbate that,” she said.  

“One of the things I often talk about with patients with depression is their need to be more active and have more socialization. And that’s particularly difficult right now.” 

She said she encourages patients to stay engaged with other people as much as possible, even if they can’t be together physically. Story here.

Bar Harbor, April 3—On March 18 Governor Janet Mills first issued an executive order mandating all restaurants, bars and non-essential businesses statewide close to the public. The order was extended on March 31 pushing the closed date until April 30 and further restricting the guidelines for those that remain open. 

While eateries are still allowed to sell their food directly to consumers through take-out and delivery options, some have gotten creative, temporarily changing their business model to continue operations.  

In Bar Harbor, the Royal Indian restaurant is not only offering free island-wide delivery of its cuisine but is also offering same-day grocery delivery “for elderly and people quarantining themselves.”  Story here.

Mount Desert Island, April 3—If the governor’s executive order to stay home for public safety regarding the spread of COVID-19 remains in place beyond the end of April, a few towns here will have to decide what to do about their annual town meeting.  

“If this thing goes on for an extended period, we could possibly do it outside,” said Tremont Selectman Kevin Buck in a virtual meeting of the board on Monday. He noted that appropriate distancing would be possible at the right location. “We don’t have a huge crowd for these meetings.” 

Town Manager Chris Saunders wasn’t sure that would be a viable option. Story here. 

Ellsworth, April 3—The message from the City Council on Thursday evening was clear: We welcome visitors and those with seasonal homes to the area. Just not right now.

“We don’t have the health care resources,” said Councilor Michelle Kaplan, who works as a physician’s assistant at Mount Desert Island Hospital.

“We have limited hospital beds, we have limited ICUs and limited capabilities to care for people in droves,” said Kaplan, unlike areas such as New York City, which have the capability to see thousands of patients and build out facilities relatively quickly. “Our hospitals can take maybe 25 to 50 patients. We just don’t have the resources to care for the masses.”

The council, in a 6-1 vote, passed a temporary ordinance limiting short-term rentals (including campgrounds and hotels) from renting through the end of April. There are exceptions for health-care and other workers, such as construction crews, who have been deemed essential by the state, and for those receiving General Assistance. Story here.

Statewide, April 3—Breaking news from Maine Department of Labor: Starting Monday: After receiving an unprecedented number of unemployment claims due to the novel coronavirus, the Maine Department of Labor is announcing a new alphabetical-by-last-name call-in schedule for Maine people filing for unemployment benefits. The new schedule will help reduce phone line congestion as the Department ramps up its capacity to receive and process claims.

Starting Monday, April 6, Maine people seeking to file for unemployment by calling the 800 number with last names beginning with A-H should call on Monday; I-Q on Tuesday; R-Z on Wednesday. Thursday and Friday will be left unassigned for those who miss their alphabetical day or need to call at that time.

“While we hope to have 100 more people answering the phone lines by the end of next week, implementing this new system will ease congestion on our phone lines in the meantime,” said Commissioner Laura Fortman. “This is an easy way for individuals to take action to improve access for everyone. We are all in this together and we appreciate your help as we navigate these unprecedented times.”

Mount Desert, April 3—The message that was posted on the town’s website and on social media Thursday is blunt: “If you are not in Mount Desert, please stay where you are and shelter in place.”

The Board of Selectmen, in a special meeting Wednesday, instructed Town Manager Durlin Lunt to draft and post the message as part of the town’s effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

If you don’t live in Mount Desert but choose to come, the message states, “You are putting your lives at risk as well as the many elderly and chronically ill residents of our community by arriving now. Do not make our efforts any more difficult than they already are.” Story here.

Gardiner, April 3—Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Maine Securities Administrator Judith Shaw is warning investors to be on guard against an anticipated surge of fraudulent investment schemes.

Investment-related scams always accompany times of national concern, such as weather-related disasters and health scares.  “Scammers will be targeting investors, capitalizing on recent developments in the economy and preying on concerns about the regulated securities market,” said Shaw. “Investors must remain vigilant to protect themselves.”

In particular, Administrator Shaw warned investors to be on the lookout for investments and “get rich quick” schemes specifically tied to the threat of COVID-19. Bad actors can be expected to develop schemes that falsely purport to raise capital for companies manufacturing surgical masks and gowns, producing ventilators and other medical equipment, distributing small-molecule drugs and other preventative pharmaceuticals, or manufacturing vaccines and miracle cures. The schemes often appear legitimate because they draw upon current news, medical reports and social and political developments.

Administrator Shaw urged anyone who has questions about investing to contact the Maine Office of Securities.  “Your best resource in avoiding these scams is knowledge,” Shaw said.  “My Office is always available to provide you with information about an investment.”  Information is available at www.investors.maine.gov, by calling 1-877-624-8551 or writing to the Maine Office of Securities, 121 SHS, Augusta, Maine 04333-0121.

Southwest Harbor, April 2— When the Town Office doors here were officially closed to the public March 13, a notice was posted on the building and the town’s website that all public meetings were cancelled until further notice.  

Not every town on Mount Desert Island took this approach. Selectmen in Tremont and Mount Desert have been meeting via an online video conferencing format, to continue conducting essential town business.  

“We are holding remote meetings via Zoom,” said Mount Desert Town Manager Durlin Lunt. “It’s a new world and we’re adjusting to it.” Story here. 

Blue Hill, April 2— The town of Blue Hill had been thinking outside the box, the ballot box that is, to ensure public safety amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Town officials had arranged for drive-through voting for the annual Town Meeting polls, which had been scheduled for Friday, April 3, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

However, in light of Governor Janet Mill’s stay-at-home order effective April 2-30, the drive-through polling plans have been postponed.

Also postponed until further notice is the annual Town Meeting, which had been tentatively scheduled for April 25. Story here.

Bar Harbor, April 2—Mount Desert Island Hospital has three intensive care beds and is licensed for 25 total beds, CEO Art Blank told the Town Council Monday. 

The hospital has five ventilators and a new transport ventilator on the way, he said, but “breathing equipment probably not going to be the constraining factor” in the event that the hospital is faced with a significant number of cases of COVID-19. Beds aren’t, either. Story here.

Bar Harbor, April 2—Schools in the Mount Desert Island Regional School System are offering students free breakfasts and lunches while the schools remain closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“All the schools in the district have agreed to serve any student who is in need,” said Barb Neilly, principal of Conners Emerson School in Bar Harbor, who is coordinating the meals program for the district. 

“The goal is to provide six days’ worth of breakfast and lunch. The kitchens may be open only three days a week, but on those days they will be making meals for two days.”  Story here.

Bar Harbor, April 2—Amidst challenging and uncertain times, folks in Maine and elsewhere across the country have a bit of help on the way.  

Individuals and businesses are set to benefit from a stimulus bill passed by Congress and signed Friday by President Donald Trump. The bill, known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, contains a record $2.1 trillion in relief spending. Story here.

Ellsworth, April 1 There are temporary changes made to the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) that will make it easier for some people who have lost income due to the COVID19 pandemic to qualify for the program.  Recognizing that many people, who would normally be ineligible for the program due to household income levels, have experienced a sudden drop in income, Maine Housing has temporarily changed the calculation formula for certain individuals.  This change is currently in effect for one month only, through May 1, 2020.

HEAP is a program that can assist families and individuals with the cost of heating their home, and offers access to additional benefits such as assistance with the electric bill, including managing high arrearage accounts.  Also, HEAP eligibility can make the process of applying for benefits such as food stamps a smoother process. Downeast Community Partners is the local provider of this program, which comes through Maine Housing.

For more information about change, or to apply for assistance, call DCP at 664-2424 or at 610-5914.

Downeast Community Partners is a 501 c 3 non-profit corporation operating in Hancock and Washington counties. For more information about the services provided by DCP, please call us or check out the website, www.downeastcommunitypartners.org

Augusta, April 1Governor Janet Mills today announced that she has submitted a request through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration in light of the significant impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) on the State of Maine. If Governor Mills’ request for assistance is approved, Maine people may have access to additional resources that support child care, behavioral health, and legal services, among others, needed in response to the pandemic. The Governor’s request is for all 16 counties.

“I am proud of the way Maine people have responded to this virus, and I know they will continue to meet this public health crisis with the same resilience and compassion that has defined us throughout our history,” said Governor Mills. “While I know we will conquer this virus, we cannot do it alone. As Maine people do their part, I am hopeful the President will lend the support of the Federal government by approving my request for a major disaster declaration swiftly and in full. Doing so will allow us to provide more services to Maine people who need them. I thank the President for his consideration.”

The Governor also requested approval of Title 32 Section 502(f) funds for the Maine National Guard. As the Chief Executive, Governor Mills exercises command over the Guard, and her Proclamation of a State of Civil Emergency allows for their deployment. Approval of the Governor’s Title 32 request by the President would mean that the Federal government would absorb the costs of any action taken by the Guard in Maine. At present, the Guard stands ready to assist at the direction of the Governor and their mission could include the use of logistic, medical, transportation, security, rotary and fixed wing aviation, cyber, incident assessment and awareness, and engineering assets to respond to COVID-19.

Ellsworth, April 1Patients at Northern Light Blue Hill and Mount Desert Island hospitals have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

“I can confirm we have admitted a patient who had tested positive for COVID-19 at Blue Hill

Hospital yesterday,” said hospital spokeswoman Kelley Columber on Wednesday morning.

Columber declined to give any more information about the case, citing patient confidentiality.

On Wednesday, MDI Hospital announced a second confirmed case at its hospital. The most recent case involves a Hancock County resident who was tested outside the hospital’s Cooper Gilmore Health Center. That patient is now isolated at home. Story here.

Ellsworth, April 1The Ellsworth City Council will hold an emergency meeting via teleconference and Zoom Conferencing technology Thursday, April 2 at 6:30 p.m. The agenda is as follows:

  1. Call to Order.
  2. Roll Call of members present.
  3. Council Order #040000, possible action on adoption of an Emergency Ordinance limiting hotel, motel and short term rentals to those deemed essential workers, General Assistance clients, and those taking care of family members.
  4. Council Order #040001, possible action on adopting Resolution of the Ellsworth City Council Regarding Non-Resident Visitors During Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak to protect public health and safety.
  5. Council Order #040002, Request to suspend the Pay as You Throw solid waste program through April 30, 2020.
  6. Council Order #040003, Request to waive interest on any unpaid taxes, water, and sewer through April 30, 2020
  7. Council Order #040004, Request to have the City continue to absorb all credit card fees associated with electronic payments until April 30, 2020.
  8. Council Order #040005, Request to waive foreclosure on unpaid sewer liens expiring on April 16, 2020.
  9. Adjournment.

Public comments can be sent to Chair Dale Hamilton at [email protected] through the duration of the meeting.

This meeting will be held by means of a teleconference only, broadcast live on the City’s Facebook page, YouTube Channel, and Spectrum Channel 1303.  Story here.

Castine, April 1 Maine Maritime Academy’s May 2 commencement has been called off and the spring training cruise will not depart as scheduled as the academy takes precautions against the spread of the novel coronavirus.

In a statement issued last week, faculty explained the changes.

“We know that you have questions about future plans and schedules as we continue to assess the impacts of the COVID-19 situation on our operations,” Elizabeth True, vice president for student affairs and enrollment management, and Professor Mark Cote wrote to students.  “We also realize that decisions we make will influence your plans going forward. We are trying to be as proactive as possible and are making decisions as soon as we can, based on the information available.” Story here.

Blue Hill, April 1This tiny, seaside village was hit with its first reported case of coronavirus on Tuesday, according to hospital officials.

“I can confirm we have admitted a patient who had tested positive for COVID-19 at Blue Hill Hospital yesterday,” said hospital spokeswoman Kelley Columber on Wednesday morning.

Columber declined to give any more information about the case, citing patient confidentiality.

She also declined to say how many people the hospital has tested for the virus. Story here.

Augusta, March 31Governor Janet Mills announced on Tuesday that Mainers would be subject to a statewide “stay-healthy-at-home” order starting at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday and lasting at least through April 30. The order means Maine residents will only be able to leave their homes for “essential personal activities” such as grocery shopping, obtaining medical care or medication, providing care to another person or livestock, or commuting to and from work for an essential job. Story here.

Ellsworth, March 31School Meal Pick-Up Procedures from Ellsworth Elementary-Middle School:

As our School Breakfast-Lunch Pick-Up Program begins tomorrow, we want to provide the following reminders for our procedures. Please know these procedures have been established to implement recommended social and physical distancing guidelines and to promote traffic safety. We appreciate your understanding and cooperation and attention to established procedures.

• Beginning Wednesday, April 1, 2020, a combined breakfast-lunch meal will be available for pick-up in the Reny’s Department Store parking lot from 10:00 a.m. -12:00 noon;
• Families of ESD students interested in participating are asked to call the Ellsworth High School kitchen office at 667-4722, Extension 5525 by 8:30 a.m. each day you are planning to pick up a meal. Please provide the name and grade level of children who will be obtaining meals. Please also call if you have questions;
• The meal is available to all ESD students at no cost to families;
• Please enter the Reny’s location via the High Street entrance between Wicked Munchies and the Ellsworth Chamber of Commerce building;
• Follow the directions of staff and signs;
• As you approach the pick-up location, please remain in your vehicle until school staff have placed the meal package on the table and have moved back. Once staff have moved back, please get out of the vehicle, take the package, return to your vehicle, and proceed to the traffic light exit onto High Street;
o Yesterday we received updated guidance from the USDA regarding accountability requirements and the requirement that eligible children be present at meal pick-up time. The updated guidance permits us to “distribute meals to a parent or legal guardian to take home to their children.” Children are not required to be present. Please know, however, that under the program guidelines, we are responsible for maintaining accountability and program integrity, and that duplicate meals are not distributed to any child. To help us meet those requirements, please be prepared to provide your child’s name and grade level to staff who are distributing meals.
• Vehicles waiting in line to pick up meals are asked to please wait until the vehicle ahead of you has completed their pick-up and departed before you get out of your vehicle.
• Please help us protect the safety of all parties in abiding by all recommended social and physical distancing procedures.
• Please help to further protect the safety of all parties by limiting your speed to no more than 5 mph.

Bar Harbor, March 30The town is asking lodging businesses, including campgrounds and vacation rentals, to close for a few weeks to all but essential travel to protect public safety during the coronavirus emergency.

Meeting Monday via videoconference, the Town Council approved a statement suspending “all occupancy for transient accommodations, vacation rentals and campgrounds for nonessential travel effective April 8-April 30.”

The statement was approved in a split 4-3 vote, following extensive debate about whether such a move was necessary, as many lodging businesses have closed or announced plans to delay opening. Story here. 

Bar Harbor, March 30Mount Desert Island Hospital and its health centers on Friday announced temporary restrictions on visitors and others accompanying patients, part of ongoing efforts to help prevent the spread of the new coronavirus and its associated disease, COVID-19.

Visitors are not allowed at the hospital until further notice. Specific exceptions may be made for emergency room, pediatric, obstetrics, oncology and compassionate care patients, who may have one support person accompany them. Story here.

Ellsworth, March 28 The Jackson Laboratory and the Ellsworth Public Library are collaborating to present an online program for the local community titled “From SARS to COVID-19: My Life With Pandemic Response” at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 31.

Jackson Lab President and CEO Edison Liu, who previously led the scientific response for the city-state of Singapore for the 2003 SARS crisis in 2003, will talk about the science behind the coronavirus (COVID-19), how to slow the virus’s spread, what the scientific community is doing to address the public health crisis and answer questions submitted during the free online program. Story here.

Farmington, Conn., March 27—  “This is a team effort,” said Governor Ned Lamont, speaking at a press conference March 19 at The Jackson Laboratory Center for Genomic Medicine, of his state’s response to the pandemic emergency. “And our health care system, the hospitals, biosciences, you’re the quarterback of this team.” 

The Center for Genomic Medicine, a state-accredited clinical diagnostic laboratory, is now testing patient samples for the coronavirus, working with local hospitals and the state Department of Public Health. Story here.

Ellsworth, March 27 Radio station Star 97.7 announced Friday that it’s going to stop the music for one hour on Tuesday, March 31 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. to air an informational program with two local physicians about the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is something the station has never done before, said co-owner and general manager Mark Osborne in a statement.

“These unusual times call for unusual measures,” he said. “For the first time in the radio station’s history, Star 97.7 is going to stop the station’s ‘Smooth Rock ‘n Roll’ music for one hour. Story here.

Bar Harbor, March 27The Bar Harbor Town Council is set to meet Monday at 1 p.m. by video conference. The meeting will be broadcast on cable channel 1303 and streamed live on Town Hall Streams.

Agenda items include whether to extend the public closure of municipal facilities two more weeks, whether to extend the cruise ship ban past the end of April and whether to stop essential businesses, including lodging, that are not already open from opening for the season.

They’ll also hear briefings from MDI Hospital and the town’s emergency team, and respond to frequently asked questions from residents.
http://www.barharbormaine.gov/…/ViewF…/Agenda/_03302020-2492

Augusta, March 27 The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported the first death of an individual who had tested positive for the disease caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The individual was a man in his 80s from Cumberland County. Due to privacy laws, Maine CDC is limited in releasing further details.

“This is a sad day for the State of Maine. I know I join countless people in extending my condolences to his family, friends, and loved ones during this difficult time,” said Governor Janet Mills. “Our state is a family. And while we mourn the loss of a member of our Maine family today, I find strength and solace in knowing that we will support one another and that, together, we will get through this.”

Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, shortness of breath, and lower respiratory distress. Individuals who exhibit those symptoms are advised to contact medical providers before going to a health care facility. Medical providers will make initial determinations about who should be tested.

As of March 26 at noon, the Maine CDC had recorded 155 positive tests and 3,394 negative tests for COVID-19, and the U.S. CDC was reporting 994 deaths of individuals in the United States who tested positive for COVID-19.

Acadia National Park, March 26—To discourage visitation during the COVID-19 pandemic, all roads and facilities in the park are now closed to the public until further notice. 

“Continuing to keep park facilities open is encouraging visitors from outside local communities,” Superintendent Kevin Schneider said. “This is placing local residents, health care workers and first responders at risk. The park and area first responders do not have adequate masks or other protective equipment to assist visitors.” Story here.

Ellsworth, March 26—For decades, lobster has been the symbol of Maine’s fishing industry, but at the moment the microscopic coronavirus is taking center stage.

As recently as Feb. 27, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported no confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the state. By noon Wednesday, the CDC reported 142 confirmed cases in Maine and the state was on virtual lockdown. All those who could work from home were staying away from their offices, “non-essential” businesses were shuttered and bars and restaurants were closed except for takeout and delivery business.

While the economic news has been bad for all sectors of the economy, the fishing industry has been particularly hard-hit. Story here.

Mount Desert, March 26—The town is nearly doubling the rate of pay for on-call firefighters who volunteer to work shifts at the fire station in Northeast Harbor as the Fire Department moves to around-the clock staffing in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus threat. 

Both the 24/7 coverage and the higher pay for the volunteers who help provide it went into effect Monday on what is to be a temporary basis, until the pandemic threat has passed. 

The hourly pay for those on-call firefighters has gone from $13.80 to $26.61, which is what a starting full-time firefighter would make.  

“We thought it was appropriate to pay our on-call people who are coming in to work a shift the same as a new full-time firefighter,” Fire Chief Mike Bender said.  Story here.

Bar Harbor, March 26—No school for a month would be happy news for most kids under normal circumstances, but the recent announcement that school will be out until the end of April brings more questions than answers for many children.  

So, how do we talk with them about COVID-19? 

“They are doing a lot better than a lot of the adults are with this,” said Dawn Nuding, a licensed clinical professional counselor who is part of The Counseling Collaborative. “In general, they are really resilient.” 

For a lot of the people Nuding and other area counselors are working with, grief seems to be a prominent emotion at this time regarding social isolation, loss of routine and changes in the way we are used to doing things.  Story here.

Bar Harbor, March 25—Mount Desert Island Hospital reported a first confirmed positive case of COVID-19 on Friday, March 20. 

The sample was collected at one if the hospital’s two remote testing sitesaccording to a news release. The patient never entered the hospital. 

The testing sites are drive-up facilities; patients can be tested without having to leave their vehicles. One is near the hospital’s main campus; the other is near the Cooper-Gilmore Health Center. 

On March 19, the Maine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported one case in Hancock County, but changed the status of that one case the next day. The person was tested in Hancock County, the agency said, but lives in and is currently situated in Penobscot County.  Story here.

Deer Isle, March 25— The spring months always bring an influx of seasonal residents to Hancock County. This year, those residents are arriving earlier than usual.

With the number of confirmed coronavirus cases continuing to rise and places throughout the country issuing citywide or even statewide lockdowns, many seasonal residents have been looking to the less-clustered Downeast area for refuge. Story here.

Augusta, March 25—Governor Janet Mills announced new restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday, ordering businesses to close their public-facing physical locations and sites where workers cannot be safely socially distanced from one other.

“This mandates what I had previously recommended,” said Mills during a press conference in Augusta.

“We are trying to prevent an overload on our hospitals, on our health-care providers at all levels.”

The news came as the number of cases rose to 118 spread over 10 counties. No cases have yet been reported in Hancock County (a case reported last week turned out to be a resident of Penobscot County). Of the 118 cases, 15 residents are hospitalized, said Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As of Tuesday morning, 3,014 tests had come back negative, Shah said. Story here.

Tremont, March 24— Notice from Town of Tremont here.

Augusta, March 24—Under the authority granted to her during a State of Civil Emergency, Governor Janet Mills today issued an Executive Order mandating that all non-essential businesses and operations in Maine close their physical locations that are public facing, meaning those that allow customer, vendor or other in-person contact. The Order also closes non-essential business sites that require more than ten workers to convene in a space where physical distancing is not possible. Non-essential businesses and operations may continue activities that do not involve these types of in-person contact and convenings, and should facilitate the maximum number of employees working remotely.

The Order is effective tomorrow, March 25, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. and extends for a period of 14 days through April 8, 2020 at 12:00 a.m.

It solidifies as a mandate her previous recommendation to close non-essential business sites.

Governor Mills also strongly urged all large, essential, public-facing businesses to immediately employ strategies to reduce congestion in their stores, including limiting the number of customers in the store at any one time and enhancing curbside pick-up and delivery services. These measures, aimed specifically at high-traffic retail stores in Maine that provide essential goods and services, seek to better protect both customers and employees from the threat of COVID-19.

Bar Harbor, March 23—Last week, Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt directed the National Park Service to waive entrance fees in an effort to promote healthy outdoor recreation as people adjust to the changes that have come with the spread of the new coronavirus.

And gateway communities including Bar Harbor are weighing in. The town is asking the state government and Acadia National Park for help letting potential visitors know that during the current health emergency, tourist services are extremely limited.

Meeting via videoconference Friday, the Bar Harbor Town Council approved a statement saying that, while the town “appreciates visitors and tourist-based businesses, at this time, we recommend that everyone stay at home and avoid unnecessary travel.” Story here.

Bar Harbor, March 23—All schools in the Mount Desert Island Regional School System will remain closed until April 27 to reduce the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak, Superintendent Marc Gousse announced Monday. 

He said a top priority now is putting in place systems for remote learning for students at all grade levels. 

“We are setting up teacher face pages on school websites so students and parents/guardians will have ‘one-stop shopping’ to get recommended assignments, links to virtual experiences, schedules and suggestions for outside activities,” he said in an email to students and parents.  Story here.

Statewide, March 23: State reports the number of coronavirus cases is 109. None are reported in Hancock and Washington counties.

Bar Harbor, March 22—The Jackson Laboratory is Bar Harbor’s largest employer. It’s also on the front lines of global research to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. 

Researchers across the United States and around the world depend on The Jackson Laboratory to enable their biomedical research work, including finding treatments for the coronavirus (COVID-19),” Katy Longley, the lab’s executive vice president and chief operating officer said Wednesday. Story here.

Bar Harbor, March 22—Local schools and community groups have been hard at work on how to replace school meal programs while schools are closed. Barb Neilly, principal of Conners Emerson School, compiled the following list of available options for the coming week. List here.

Bar Harbor, March 22—The new coronavirus outbreak and its associated respiratory disease (COVID-19) continue to be an emerging, rapidly evolving situation nationally and internationally. Our team at Mount Desert Island Hospital and Health Centers has been monitoring the situation since January and is following the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). We are in close daily contact with these organizations and have been actively planning in concert with providers statewide to ensure that our care providers and staff have the latest guidance available. Full statement here.

Ellsworth, March 22—Schools in Ellsworth and Regional School Unit 24 (RSU 24) will remain shut down until after spring vacation.

In a letter to parents dated March 20, RSU 24 Superintendent Michael Eastman said the current plan is for students to return to school Monday, April 27, following the originally scheduled vacation. The original plan was to remain closed until April 3, and plans are subject to change.

“The situation before us is fluid, and changes could come about rather quickly,” Eastman wrote.

Remote learning began Thursday, March 19, and was “generally a success,” with the district working to resolve the few glitches. Story here.

Swan’s Island, March 21—The Town of Swan’s Island issued a statement on Tuesday urging summer residents not to visit the island at this time.  

“Please consider that Swan’s Island is not equipped to handle actual coronavirus cases,” the statement read. “Our preference would be that you remain in places where you have direct access to a hospital.” 

Any people who do decide to go to the island should “be prepared to self-quarantine for a two-week period.” 

The Town Hall, school, and library on the island are closed.  

Southwest Harbor, March 21—Guests were supposed to be checking in for a stay at one of Acadia Cornerstone’s properties on Monday but cancelled at the last minute, which added to Veena Gaines’s stress about what the repercussions of the novel coronavirus, COVID19, might be. 

She had received several calls on Monday following what seemed like a drastic social and political shift regarding the virus over the weekend. Mount Desert Island Regional School System closed for two weeks on Friday and several public organizations chose to shutter their doors, cancel events and postpone others indefinitely in the name of public safety. Story here.

Cranberry Isles, March 21—A public health emergency has been declared beginning March 17 to April 1 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Cranberry Isles Board of Selectmen listed several directives to adhere to during this period of time 

Contractors commuting to Cranberry Isles for work must remain on their jobsites and maintain proper social distancing from residents at all times, which means limiting interactions with island residents as much as possible 

Any year-round residents returning from traveling excursions, as well as summer residents returning to the islands, are required to self-quarantine for two weeks and be fever-free for at least three days.  Story here.

Cranberry Isles, March 21—The Beal & Bunker mail boat ferry between Northeast Harbor and the Cranberry Isles will transport only full-time and seasonal residents of the Cranberry Isles until at least March 31 as a precaution against the spread of the coronavirus. 

“We made this decision to help keep our community as safe and healthy as possible,” Beal & Bunker said in a press statement Tuesday. “We will be deciding how best to proceed as more information regarding the…virus becomes available.” 

Ellsworth, March 20—Northern Light Maine Coast and Blue Hill hospitals have announced new, stricter guidelines for testing patients for the coronavirus in accordance with guidance from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The new guidelines are in response to the critically low national supply of laboratory materials, which is reducing the ability to perform COVID-19 testing.

“To preserve testing capacity for patients who may develop severe COVID-19, effective immediately we will prioritize testing according to CDC guidelines for high-risk individuals to include the following: hospitalized patients who are high-risk, healthcare workers and first responders and people living in closed settings such as nursing homes,” said hospital spokeswoman Kelley Columber.

Both hospitals established drive-up test sites on Friday. Story here.

Ellsworth, March 20—The coronavirus has not reached Hancock County after all, at least as of Friday morning.

“There was a case in Hancock County that seemed to disappear,” said Dr. Nariv Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, during a briefing Friday, March 20. The Hancock County case was reported during the March 19 briefing.

Whenever a new case is presented, an epidemiologist is assigned to investigate the case. Although the individual was diagnosed in Hancock County, it turns out the person is a resident of Penobscot County, Shah said.

The total number of cases in Maine stands at 56 as of Friday morning. This represents eight new cases. Thursday’s total of 52 included four cases that have been taken off the books. Story here.

Augusta, March 20— Governor Janet Mills today directed Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (DIFW) Commissioner Judy Camuso to open all inland waters for fishing and to waive the requirement that anglers need a recreational fishing license to fish the inland waters of Maine, according to a release from the Maine DIFW. The order, which is effectively immediately, will run through April 30 and is intended to encourage Maine people to enjoy the outdoors as we confront the challenges associated with COVID-19. The Governor is considering additional measures to make Maine’s great outdoors more accessible to Maine people. She continues to urge those who go out to employ appropriate physical distancing measures recommended by the U.S. CDC.

“As an avid angler, I know there’s nothing better for the heart and soul than a little fishing,” said Governor Mills. “As we continue to navigate this challenging time together, I hope this order will motivate Maine people to do what we have done for generations: take to our lakes, rivers, and streams to cast a line. The great outdoors is still open. Please enjoy it safely.”

Effective immediately, any person (except those whose license has been suspended or revoked) may fish without a license through April 30, 2020. This change does not apply to activities which require a commercial freshwater fishing license or permit.

Also effective immediately, all inland waters that traditionally open to open water fishing on April 1 will now be open to open water fishing. This change does not open any body of water to ice fishing that is currently closed to ice fishing. All other tackle, length and bag limits and special regulations still apply.

Before heading out, please make sure you let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return. If you are accessing a waterway from private land, please treat the land as if it were your own, and leave no trace that you were there.

If you are going to be heading out onto frozen waterbodies to ice fish, please continue to use extreme caution.

In conjunction with MDIFW temporarily waiving the requirement that anglers need a recreational fishing license to fish the inland waters of Maine, The Department of Marine Resources also waived the requirement that saltwater anglers must join the state’s saltwater registry, effective immediately through April 30.

Ellsworth, March 20—Boy Scout Troop 86 worked hard to save up for a spring break trip to Gettysburg and Washington, D.C., but when the trip was called off due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Scouts decided to channel their disappointment into acts of service.

The dozen or so Scouts, ranging in age from 10 to 18, are volunteering to do the shopping for individuals in need. That includes area residents, especially the elderly, who are trying to isolate at home because they are at high risk for the virus or are otherwise unable to get out and do their shopping. Troop leader Mike Springer said the troop will shop and deliver the groceries and other necessities to homes in Ellsworth, Hancock, Trenton, Lamoine and Surry. Individuals can reimburse the troop by check, credit card or cash. Story here.

Augusta, March 20—Patrick Keliher, the state Commissioner of Marine Resources, said in a letter to the lobster industry Monday afternoon that he does not have any immediate plans to close any commercial fishery in response to the coronavirus.” 

He advises fishermen and dealers to “actively communicate with each other about the realities of the market” and “refrain from landing product if there is no market for it.” But he does not have the authority, under the current circumstances, to order the lobster fishery to close. 

“I am monitoring this situation and am receiving thoughts and guidance from all segments of the industry,” he wrote. “Many of these recommendations from the industry are in conflict with each other. I am currently evaluating the appropriateness of management actions I am authorized to take within our enabling legislation. I am also working directly with the Governor’s office to fully understand what other authorities may — or may not — exist. I will remain in constant communication with industry as this situation unfolds.” 

Ellsworth, March 20— There will be a special meeting of the Ellsworth City Council, Monday, March 23 via teleconference at 6:30 p.m.

The public portions of the meeting, which includes Roll Call, Call to Order, Action resulting from executive session (if any) and Adjournment, will be broadcast live on the city’s Facebook page, YouTube Channel and Spectrum channel 1303.

The executive session of the meeting, which will not be broadcasted, will cover consultation with legal counsel regarding the rights and duties of the city with regard to COVID-19 and necessary measures and actions to be taken to protect the public safety, health and welfare in accordance with MRSA Title 1, Chapter 13, Section 405, Paragraph 6E.

Bar Harbor, March 20—Like most colleges and universities, College of the Atlantic has cancelled in-person instruction in response to the spread of the coronavirus and associated disease. All classes for the spring term, which begins March 30, will be held in online formats. 

The campus, including its library and museum, as well as Peggy Rockefeller Farm are Beech Hill Farm are closed to visitors. 

Friday, March 13, was the last day of the schools’ winter term, and most students left town for spring break with the intention of staying home for the coming months. 

“COA is an innovative school — we began as such and have doggedly held onto that approach,” President Darron Collins said in an email to the college community March 12. “It is this spirit that will carry us through these challenging times.” Story here.

Ellsworth, March 20—The Maine elver fishing season, slated to open at noon on Sunday, is on an indefinite hold in an effort to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus.

On Thursday night, Department of Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher announced he had made the “difficult decision” to close Maine’s coastal waters to “fishing for or taking elvers” for a minimum of two weeks. Harvesters are also explicitly forbidden to set any gear — the most common way to fish for elvers is with fyke nets anchored to the shore and stretching into a stream or other waterway — during the closure. Story here.

Ellsworth, March 20—It has been a tumultuous week across Hancock County, as residents have been rapidly adapting to the precautions now in place to fight the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

In the face of school closures, working from home and no toilet paper to be found at the grocery store, there are people and services working to ensure that those in need are still taken care of.

That includes food pantries, restaurants offering meals to children, or just people offering to pick up groceries for the elderly.

Friends in Action, which provides rides, exercise classes and other activities to seniors, is continuing to offer rides for critical medical appointments such as dialysis or cancer treatments, or make pick-ups from grocery stores and pharmacies for those whom the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and health officials are advising to remain at home. Story here.

Bar Harbor, March 20—Conners Emerson School Principal Barb Neilly wrote to school families this morning to dispel a rumor that has circulated about a school staff member having tested positive for COVID-19. “This is absolutely not true,” she said.

She spoke with Al May of the Maine CDC, who emphasized that if any student, staff member or family member tests positive, the CDC will contact the superintendent, principal and school nurse.

Then the agency will conduct an investigation tracking the person’s contact with individuals and groups, and “contact anyone who has potentially come in contact with the affected individual” directly and “assist them with next steps as it relates to their health needs.”

“Please continue to be proactive practicing social distancing and be safe,” Neilly wrote. “CES looks forward to having our students and staff back when we are able.”

Lamoine, March 20—A home-grown magic school bus rolled through Lamoine Monday, as Consolidated School staff wearing costumes delivered learning tools, care packages and personal belongings to students stuck at home.

“It took a lot of teamwork, collaboration and creative thinking to make our own version of the magic school bus come to life and deliver smiles, songs and laughter the whole way,” said Miranda Engstrom, a reading recovery and Title I instructor at the school. “It was a fun way to let our students know we love them and we can’t wait to see them when we return.” Story here.

Castine, March 20—As of early Wednesday morning, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention had yet to report a single confirmed or presumed case of COVID-19, the respiratory infection caused by the coronavirus, in eastern Maine, but the lobster industry is already feeling the impacts of the global pandemic.

The spread of the disease in China and Europe has cut the demand for lobsters, and reductions in overseas airline flights has made it difficult to ship live lobsters to fill what demand exists. The shutdown of the cruise industry, large events and restaurant closings have all contributed to a sharp drop in the demand for lobsters and lower prices across the board as dealers are unable to sell the lobsters they have bought from fishermen.

On Monday, one Hancock County lobster dealer said the boat price paid to lobstermen had dropped to $4 per pound, and at least one major Maine lobster dealer had begun layoffs of employees as its export business dropped. Story here.

Ellsworth, March 20— The Down East Family YMCA closed its facilities in Ellsworth, Bucksport and Blue Hill this week in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

“The financial impact to our YMCA will be significant and devastating; however, we believe that by working together we will come through this emergency as a stronger, healthier and more cohesive community,” said CEO Peter Farragher.

The closure of the Y’s two Ellsworth child-care facilities will be a particular hardship, not only to the organization but to the approximately 200 families that rely on it. Child-care services generate over half of the Y’s operating revenue, according to Farragher. The YMCA employs about 148 people. Story here.

Bar Harbor, March 20— Cleaning school buildings from top to bottom, getting food to children who need it and setting up a system for remote learning are the top priorities for Marc Gousse, superintendent of the Mount Desert Island Regional School System, in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic threat. 

All schools in the system, which have been closed since Monday, will remain closed through next Friday, March 27. And Gousse said Wednesday the closure could well last longer.  

“I think parents, children, staff, community members need to be prepared for extended closures,” he said. “Until we get a handle on this, it’s very wise to not have people in buildings or potentially exposed to the virus. Story here.

Bar Harbor, March 19—The Bar Harbor Town Council is set to meet Friday, March 20th at 12 noon by video conference. New legislation passed this week in Augusta gives municipal officers the authority to connect remotely.

Public viewing will be by cable channel 1303 or streaming on townhallstreams.com.

The purpose of the meeting is to discuss an information update on the pandemic and clarification of any issues related to the Emergency Ordinance Declaration, including a possible extension of the property tax due date to April 30.

Bar Harbor, March 19— Following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19, also known as coronavirus, town and state offices and agencies have closed to the public. 

As of press time, there were 52 confirmed or presumptive positive coronavirus cases in Maine, one of them in the Hancock County. 

What follows is a list of closures known at press time. Story here.

Tremont, March 19— Do you need help getting food? Are you in need of a prescription refill? Does your college student want to offer babysitting services but needs to understand proper hygienic practice to keep themselves and their family safe? 

There are several places to find information for these questions online, but a recently created website is specifically focused on the Mount Desert Island community — MDI Community Response. By typing in mdicr.org residents of MDI and the surrounding area can find out what area businesses and organizations are offering services during the COVID-19 pandemic in which people are being asked to stay home as much as possible. Story here.

Augusta, March 19— The Legislature approved a supplemental budget package worth about $76 million Tuesday, with funding earmarked to help the state respond to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The package includes funding for the Maine Centers for Disease Control to beef up its workforce, increased rate reimbursements for those working in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, additional funding for adult education programs and job training, and another $38 million for the state’s public schools. 

Lawmakers also passed a special coronavirus omnibus bill extending certain emergency powers to Gov. Janet Mills that will allow her to have the upcoming June primary and other elections conducted by absentee ballot only, and also to waive state minimum public school day requirements as needed. Story here.

Mount Desert Island, March 19— All town offices are closed to the public indefinitely because of the nationwide COVID-19 pandemic.  

However, some services will still be available by telephone or online. 

The Board of Selectmen voted Monday to activate the town’s emergency operations plan, which outlines steps that can be taken to ensure the continuity of essential municipal functions and the protection of public health and safety. 

The selectmen scheduled a special meeting for Thursday morning to consider specific steps that might be taken. Story here.

Mount Desert Island, March 19— Some seasonal residents are coming weeks or even months earlier than usual this year in an attempt to reduce their risk of contracting the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. 

They have been calling plumbers on the island and asking them to turn on the water.  

“In the past five days, we’ve had requests from four people to turn on the water in five homes because they are coming up to escape,” Randy Sprague, owner of Randy Sprague Heating & Plumbing in Town Hill, said Tuesday. Story here.

Bar Harbor, March 19— Among the dizzying array of news stories and social media posts concerning the coronavirus, is information about the steps area businesses are taking to protect their employees and customers. 

“At the Mount Desert Islander, our commitment is to getting the news out every week,” said General Manager Kathy Cook. “That mission is more critical than ever in a crisis. The company does not anticipate changes to our print delivery schedule at this time.” 

The paper also is allowing unlimited access to its website, mdislander.com, so that the public may stay informed.  Story here.

Ellsworth, March 19—With the exception of police, everything to do with justice or the application of it has closed temporarily in an effort to prevent the transmission of the coronavirus.

“The Maine Judicial Branch has basically shut down the courts for everything except in-custody arraignments and emergency hearings until after May 1,” said Matt Foster, district attorney for Hancock and Washington counties. No jury trials will be held.

On Monday, the Maine Superior Court and District Court issued an order vacating outstanding warrants for unpaid fines, unpaid restitution and any other failure to appear and pay fees. Story here.

Ellsworth, March 19—Coronavirus has reached Hancock County.

During his daily briefing Thursday morning, Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said one case of coronavirus has been recorded in Hancock County.

The total number of cases has reached 52, with 40 confirmed and 10 presumptive positives, which are positive test results from outside labs which have to be confirmed by the state lab. Four people are hospitalized and one has recovered.

Ellsworth, March 19— Some businesses can adapt and even thrive when a global pandemic hits; others, like restaurants and retailers, are hard-hit.

“It’s the restaurants and small shops that are struggling the most,” said Gretchen Wilson, executive director of the Ellsworth Area Chamber of Commerce. “If someone is out of work or worried they will be, are they going to spend their discretionary income anywhere but the grocery store?”

Governor Janet Mills on Wednesday morning announced she was mandating statewide closure of all dine-in establishments beginning Wednesday at 6 p.m. Those businesses may continue to offer take-out.

The restaurants that are normally take-out eateries have been OK, Wilson said, but dine-in restaurants had been struggling even prior to the announcement. Story here.

Augusta, March 18— Governor Janet Mills issued an executive order on Wednesday that prohibits dine-in service in restaurants and bars across the state for a two-week period. Take out and delivery will be allowed to continue.  

In her order, the Governor also prohibited all gatherings of more than 10 people until further notice. 

In addition, she urged non-essential public-facing businesses, such as gyms, salons, casinos, theaters and shopping malls to also close their doors for two weeks to help mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.  Story here.

Ellsworth, March 18Administrators at hospitals in Ellsworth and Blue Hill and across the Northern Light system will set up offsite testing areas, restrict visitors and postpone elective surgeries, adult wellness visits and other checkups in an effort to free up staff time and space for anticipated coronavirus patients.

“There are no longer visiting hours,” said Dr. Sheena Whittaker, a pediatrician at Northern Light Maine Coast. “We are restricting all visitors throughout the day.”

Children under the age of 16 “will not be allowed except under extraordinary circumstances,” said Whittaker. Pregnant women will be allowed one partner and one birth support person. Visitors will be allowed for end-of-life patients, but only one or two will be allowed at a time and they will be screened for any symptoms of the coronavirus at the entrance of the building. There are also exceptions for patients with altered mental status or disruptive behavior who may need a support person, or for some surgical patients. Story here. 

Ellsworth, March 18Fever. Cough. Shortness of breath.

If you develop these symptoms and you think you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus, you should contact your doctor.

Anyone experiencing difficulty breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, confusion or bluish lips should seek immediate medical attention, according to information provided on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.

The coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, is a new virus that first emerged in China. It primarily spreads through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people up to about 6 feet away and be inhaled, leading to infection. Story here.

Lamoine, March 18— The Lamoine Board of Selectmen has found a way to comply with state Town Meeting requirements without a large gathering.

On March 15, Governor Janet Mills signed a proclamation declaring a state of civil emergency in Maine. In conjunction, she recommended further social distancing, including canceling gatherings of more than 50 people.

In a statement issued Monday, the selectmen announced plans to convene the meeting as scheduled at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, March 18 at the Lamoine Consolidated School.

“At that time, it is planned by the Board of Selectmen to move to recess the meeting to a different date given the COVID-19 situation and the advice from the state of Maine to avoid gatherings of 50 people or more,” the statement says.

Because the future development of the coronavirus is uncertain, the board has not set a date to reconvene.

“We are advising that voters do not need to attend the meeting on March 18, as the plan is to recess immediately,” the statement says. “We appreciate the town’s understanding in advance.”

Ellsworth, March 18— As the number of coronavirus cases rises, state officials are urging Mainers not to panic.

“Panic is paralytic,” Dr. Nirav D. Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said during his Tuesday morning briefing. “It can cloud your mind and prompt you to focus on things that right now are not priority.”

As of Wednesday morning, the number of cases in Maine had reached 42, with 30 of them confirmed by the state laboratory. The other 12 are presumptive positives, which are positive test results from other labs that must be confirmed by the state lab. An additional three cases involve people from out of state. Those cases will be counted among the numbers for the individuals’ states of residence. Another eight possible cases are under investigation in Maine.

Four of the affected people have been hospitalized as of Tuesday. One person has recovered. Story here.

Ellsworth, March 18— Trash pickup is on and code enforcement, assessing, planning and economic development are still business as usual, but City Hall has been closed to the public in order to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, officials reported at an emergency City Council meeting on Sunday afternoon.

Officials are calling for residents to do business online, by phone or via the mail. If you do have business that must be done in person, call City Hall — someone may be able to meet you outside the offices.

There will be a lock box for payments for water, sewer and tax payments (last week was tax week, said Deputy City Manager Tammy Mote, so most payments are in). If you need access to City Hall, visit the back entrance on Church Street, where there’s a phone and a dispatcher who will be able to direct you.

Police will be handling more complaints by phone when possible and prioritizing issuing summonses over making arrests, which require physical contact. Story here.

Bar Harbor, March 18— With in-person classes cancelled until at least March 30 because of the coronavirus pandemic, Mount Desert Island High School will pilot a remote learning platform today. 

The platform is to be piloted for freshmen at 9 a.m., for sophomores at 10 a.m., with juniors at 11 a.m. and with seniors at noon. 

Afterward, school officials will evaluate the pilot and plan the next steps. 

The goal is to “prevent a learning slide, hold the course and keep classes moving forward,” Principal Matt Haney and Dean of Curriculum Julie Keblinsky said in an email to parents and students. 

Waltham, March 18— Due to the COVID-19 virus, the town meeting for Waltham scheduled for this Saturday, March 21, has been rescheduled for April 11, 2020, according to Selectman Steve Jordan.

Ellsworth, March 18— The Maine State Ferry Service has published a “continuity of operation plan” outlining its response to the burgeoning threat of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Like employees at many other state agencies and businesses, the Ferry Service is requiring that certain employees work “remotely.” While the directive obviously doesn’t apply to vessel crews and most terminal personnel it does apply to upper management. According to the policy document released this morning, the ferry service manager, business manager and all terminal managers “have laptops (computers) to work at home.” Other senior managers, including the port engineer, assistant port engineer and the port captain, “should be issued” state-owned laptops that would allow them to work away from their offices.

As of Monday morning, the Ferry Service had not announced any changes to the schedule as a result of the coronavirus, but there are no guarantees. The Ferry Service is now operating on its winter schedule, which includes fewer trips compared with the summer schedule. Currently, the ferry from Bass Harbor to Swan’s Island runs just five trips a day five days a week, four trips on Sundays and no trips on Thursday. By contrast, between early May and mid-October, the daily runs increase to six with Sunday trips increased to five. That could change if the virus strikes ferry crew. Story here.

Bar Harbor, March 17— Offices in the municipal building and other town facilities are closed to the public and all non-emergency municipal meetings have been cancelled through March 30, following Town Council action Monday to declare a pandemic emergency.

In his role as director of disaster services under the town’s emergency management ordinance, and following an established pandemic plan, Town Manager Cornell Knight called a special meeting of the council and proposed an emergency ordinance.

The six councilors present at the Monday meeting unanimously approved the document, which is posted on the town’s website, with the addition of a suspension of cruise ship visits through April. Story here.

Augusta, March 17The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is taking immediate steps to ensure access to critical services and benefits for Maine people while protecting the health of employees and the public in response to COVID-19, according to a press release.

These steps include supporting MaineCare members through the implementation of emergency rules effective Wednesday, March 18 that will:

  • Waive all copays for prescriptions, office visits, emergency department visits, radiology and lab services
  • Allow early refills of prescriptions
  • Allow providers to extend 34-day supply maximums on brand prescriptions (MaineCare already allows 90-day supplies of generic prescriptions)
  • Waive initial prior authorization requirements for asthma and for immune-related drugs
  • Lengthen the period that prior authorization applies for prescription medications
  • Lengthen the period that prior authorization applies for certain durable medical equipment, such as home oxygen therapy, glucose test strips, and Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) supplies for individuals diagnosed with COVID-19, those with pending test results who are in self-isolation, and those in a high-risk category for infection
  • Extend the amount of time that home health providers have to submit plans of care from within five business days to within 30 business days from the start of services

DHHS will also allow for prescribing through telehealth, effective immediately. DHHS will accept (to the greatest extent allowable under federal law) eligibility verification by self-attestation to facilitate efficient processing of MaineCare applications and re-certifications. Additionally, DHHS will waive premiums for MaineCare services, such as the Working Disabled, Cub Care, Katie Beckett, and Special Benefit programs. Failure to pay those premiums will not result in case closure.

The 16 regional DHHS offices remain open at this time and are acting to support social distancing without disrupting critical benefits and services. This includes, encouraging clients to fill out paperwork online or submitting via fax, email or postal carrier, limiting interactions with the public to accepting paperwork for drop-off and holding annual review and TANF application interviews via phone.

DHHS has requested approval from the federal government as needed to allow for additional flexibility, including extending annual review periods for TANF, SNAP and MaineCare for up to three months.

For assistance, contact the toll-free number, 1 (855) 797-4357. Agents are available from 7:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Augusta, March 17— In response to concerns about the potential for price gouging as Maine responds to COVID-19, Governor Janet Mills today issued a Declaration of Abnormal Market Disruption, according to a release from the Governor’s office. The declaration, drafted in close consultation with Attorney General Aaron M. Frey, prohibits certain necessities from being sold at unconscionable prices. Maine law gives the Governor the authority to issue such a declaration to prevent “profiteering in necessities.” It comes as the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) receives allegations of price gouging and empowers the OAG to investigate these claims and take action if necessary.

The declaration specifies the necessities affected by the COVID-19 market disruption as: 1) paper products; 2) cleaning supplies; 3) hand sanitizer; 4) personal hygiene products; 5) medicine and medical supplies; 6) food; and 7) water.

Mills warns Mainers to be mindful of potential scammers and to not give their personal or financial information to individuals who contact them unexpectedly with offers that sound “too good to be true.”

Consumers who believe they have received an attempted scam or who have witnessed price gouging should contact the Consumer Protection Division of the Office of the Attorney General.

March 17: Regional School Unit 24 will be providing meals free of charge to children under the age of 18 during the unanticipated school closures, according to a news release from RSU 24. “Meals will be provided to all children without charge and are the same for all children regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability and there will be no discrimination in the course of the meal service,” the statement reads.

The service will run March 18 through April 3. Meals will be provided outside school buildings at the following times. Both breakfast and lunch may be picked up at the same time. Children do not have to be students at RSU 24 schools and can take meals for the weekend on Fridays.

Cave Hill School – Breakfast: 8:00 – 8:30 a.m. Lunch: 12:00 – 12:30 p.m.

Ella Lewis School – Breakfast: 8:00 – 8:30 a.m. Lunch: 12:00 – 12:30 p.m.

Mountain View School – Breakfast: 8:00 – 8:30 a.m. Lunch: 12:00 – 12:30 p.m.

Peninsula School – Breakfast: 8:00 – 8:30 a.m. Lunch: 12:00 – 12:30 p.m.

RSU 24 buses will also be delivering meals to homes and other places that they regularly stop, the statement says.

Castine, March 17: On Thursday, March 12, Maine officials announced the state’s first presumptive case of COVID-19 caused by the coronavirus. By 11 a.m. Monday, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported a total of eight confirmed cases and nine presumed positive cases of COVID-19.

Late Thursday, Maine Maritime Academy announced comprehensive, but flexible plans for dealing with the public health threat that called for in-person instruction for all courses to continue at the school’s Castine campus and deferred decisions on commencement, the summer training cruise for first- and third-year students and the summer cadet shipping program for second-year midshipmen. By Monday, things had changed significantly.

In a letter posted on the academy website, MMA President William J. Brennan announced that on-campus instruction would be suspended at the end of the day on Wednesday, March 18, and that students were to move out of their dormitories by 4 p.m. Sunday, March 22. Exceptions to the move-out deadline may be available on application for students with “extenuating circumstances.” Story here.

Bar Harbor, March 16— Town officials took a step Monday some residents have been pleading for for weeks: They moved to suspend cruise ship visits here at least through April 30. There are only two ship visits scheduled in April potentially affected by the action; in light of rapidly changing plans by governments and businesses, it wasn’t completely clear Monday whether either or both still planned to come.

When Town Manager Cornell Knight called a special meeting of the Town Council Monday afternoon to propose an emergency ordinance in response to the spread of the novel coronavirus, councilors added language to the ordinance suspending cruise ships through the end of April. Story here.

Augusta, March 16: The number of coronavirus cases in Maine jumped substantially overnight.

At a news conference in Augusta Monday morning, March 16, Dr. Nirav D. Shah, director of the Maine Centers for Disease Control, said the number of confirmed positive and presumptive positive cases had risen from 12 to 17 since the last update, given at about 7:30 p.m. Sunday.

“Consistent with the trends we’ve seen in other parts of New England and the Northeast, we do expect the number of these cases to increase,” Shah said. Story here

Augusta, March 15: The governor has declared a state of civil emergency. As of Sunday, there were seven confirmed cases in Maine with another five presumed positive. she recommended that public schools end classroom instruction as soon as practical; that hospitals and health care providers postpone elective surgery and other non-urgent care; that long-term care providers prohibit visitors and access from nonessential personnel; and that certain social events be postponed until further notice. Specifically, she recommended canceling any events involving more than 50 people as well as those involving 10 or more people that include someone at higher risk, such as senior citizens. Story here.

Ellsworth, March 15: Ellsworth schools will close at the end of the school day Monday, March 16 and remain closed through April 3. The City Council held an emergency meeting Sunday, March 15, to update the public about the city’s response to the coronavirus. It was the first emergency Sunday meeting the Council has held since May 8, 1933 – the date of the great Ellsworth fire, according to one councilor. See story here.

March 14, 3 p.m.: Citing “extraordinary times” in the wake of the novel coronavirus, Regional School Unit 24 Superintendent Michael Eastman has announced the district’s schools will close for three weeks starting Tuesday, March 17. There will be school Monday, March 16. Update: On Sunday, March 15, Eastman announced RSU 24 schools would be closed Monday as well.

In a March 14 letter to Union 76 parents, Superintendent Christian Elkington announced he was immediately closing all the districts schools for at least the next two weeks.

Mount Desert Island Regional School System (AOS 91) made a similar decision Friday. In a letter to parents, Superintendent Marc Gousse announced a minimum two-week closure effective Monday, March 16. Gousse said the decision was made after a meeting with the entire administrative team, a school nurse, local public safety officials, a Mount Desert Island Hospital representative and a scientist from Jackson Laboratory. Story about the closures here.

March 13, 9:56 a.m.: Two more potential cases. The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) announced that MaineHealth had informed the agency that preliminary testing in its lab indicates two more individuals in Maine have tested positive for the disease caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The test samples have been sent to the Maine CDC for review and will require confirmation by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The two new preliminary presumptive positive tests are for a woman in her 20s, who is being cared for at Maine Medical Center in Portland, and a man in his 50s, who was screened at a MaineHealth outpatient clinic and is in self-isolation at home. County of residence information for the second individual will be released when available. Maine CDC staff, working closely with MaineHealth providers, has begun investigating the patients’ travel histories.

Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, shortness of breath, and lower respiratory distress. Individuals who exhibit those symptoms are advised to contact medical providers before going to a health care facility. Medical providers will make initial determinations about who should be tested.

On Thursday, Governor Janet Mills announced three steps in response to the first presumptive positive test for COVID-19 in Maine. These steps include: 1) proclaiming an insurance emergency to improve access to care and require private health insurance plans to cover costs related to coronavirus testing; 2) suspending all non-essential out-of-state work travel by State employees; and 3) recommending, on the advice of Maine CDC, that non-essential large, indoor gatherings of 250 attendees or more be postponed in order to delay a potential coronavirus outbreak and substantially reduce its spread.

Last week, Governor Mills convened a Coronavirus Response Team, led by Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah and comprised of key individuals in her Administration, to coordinate State government’s response across departments and local agencies and health authorities to the threat of COVID-19. The response team builds on the work that has already been done by the Maine CDC to prepare for potential cases of COVID-19.

March 12, 12:16 p.m. First presumptive case in Maine. The Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention announced March 12 Maine’s first “presumptive” case of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The individual who tested positive is a woman in her 50s from Androscoggin County. She is quarantined in her home. The Maine CDC is speaking to the individual and her medical provider to assess travel history and begin to investigate possible community exposure. The woman’s test sample will be sent to the U.S. CDC for confirmation. Test results on other individuals are pending.

Governor Janet Mills said, “The Maine CDC has been preparing for this eventuality since the end of last year. With one presumptive positive case, Maine has a unique window of opportunity to delay an outbreak, like those we see in other states, and to minimize our exposure.”

Mills announced additional steps her administration is taking, including proclaiming an insurance emergency and recommending organizers postpone large gatherings. Under Maine law, the governor has the authority to proclaim an insurance emergency in order to respond to “an existing or imminent likelihood of need for a significant increase in health care services or insurance benefit payments due to injuries or sickness.” The proclamation, which Mills signed March 12, allows the superintendent of the Maine Bureau of Insurance to require health insurance carriers providing health care coverage in Maine’s commercial market to cover costs related to coronavirus testing. The Department of Health and Human Services is also issuing emergency rules to ensure MaineCare provides comprehensive coverage for lab testing and medical treatment.

The state also is recommending the postponement of all non-essential large, indoor group gatherings in Maine of 250 or more attendees for the next 30 days.

Castine, March 12: Maine Maritime Academy announces campus response. Story here.

Ellsworth, March 12: Darling’s Auto Mall announced on social media March 12 that an auction company photographer who visited Darling’s Auto Mall and Darling’s Chevrolet in Ellsworth that day had recently been in contact with someone who had tested positive for the coronavirus. According to the post, the representative is currently exhibiting no symptoms, but has since been tested for the virus and is expected to have results within 24-48 hours.

“Once we were notified, we determined where this person was in our building, on our lot, and what employees they interacted with,” Darlings stated on its Facebook page. “We determined that between both stores, they had very limited contact with three employees, and visited limited locations within our stores. To the best of our determination, this representative did not have direct interaction with any customers during his visits to our stores.”

“As the CDC has stated that this virus can live on surfaces, our team has been cleaning and sanitizing our buildings even more extensively than we had been since we were notified, particularly in the areas that this representative was present,” Darlings stated.

“In light of this, the three employees who had contact with this representative have been sent directly home to self-quarantine until we receive the representative’s test results.”

March 11: Local health officials are taking precautions in case of a local outbreak. Story here.

Cancellations and postponements:

Harborside, April 17—The Board of Directors of the Good Life Center, the Harborside historic homestead of Helen and Scott Nearing, will not open for the 2020 season due to the pandemic. Due to safety concerns for volunteers, visitors, and staff, the GLC will close for the season including the Monday Night Meeting Speaker Series, group and individual visitation, and educational workshops. Video recordings of the speaker series from past years and archival footage of the Nearings is available on the GLC website, www.goodlife.org. The GLC also intends to have interesting and informative video on Facebook and
Instagram. The GLC staff will be working hard to ensure that the historic homestead is prepared to open for the 2021 season! If anyone has any questions or concerns, please feel free to call 374-5386.

Bar Harbor, April 13— The Mount Desert Island YMCA announced Friday that this year’s Acadia Half Marathon 10K has been canceled. 

The cancellation comes amidst guidelines prohibiting large gatherings to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. The race had been scheduled for June 7. Story here.

Castine, March 26—The Castine Historical Society has announced that it is postponing the Castine House and Garden Tour originally scheduled for July 23, until July 2021.

The decision was made to ensure the safety of the community and visitors during this uncertain time of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Castine Historical Society looks forward to welcoming the public to this popular and well-attended event next summer.

Brooksville, March 23—The Brooksville Free Public Library is closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak but continues to offer various services to the community. They include:
  • Tech help drop in time from 10am-12pm every Wednesday. This can happen by phone or video chat. We can help you solve problems with your various devices (computers, phones, tablets, etc.) and learn ways to connect with people during the COVID-19 outbreak. No question is too small, no problem too minor. To sign up, contact Brook at [email protected] or 207-479-3933.
  • We are looking for community volunteers to record themselves reading children’s books. We can help you with the technology of this! You could read a picture book and decide to read a chapter books, making separate videos for each chapter. Interested? Contact Brook. She will also be recording some videos and posting them to our Facebook page.
  • The library’s WiFi is always on and works very well outside the Townhouse building. There are benches outside the door near the book drop (but please keep a 6 foot distance from anyone else not in your household.)
  • Reference services are still available to you. Have a question you can’t answer? Need help with an aspect of research on any topic? We are here for you. Contact [email protected] with as much detail as possible and a call back number.
  • You have access to the statewide shared audio and e-book collection called CloudLibrary that allows you to put books on your device of any type. You will need your patron number to use it. Don’t know it? Contact Brook. Don’t have one? We will allow you to sign up for a library card over the phone, anytime. Call brook at 207-479-3933. To access the CloudLibrary, go to our website, www.brooksvillelibrary.org and scroll to the bottom of the homepage for the link.
  • You also have access to the Maine Digital Library which has resources on everything from crafting to newspapers and magazines from around the world and much more. At this time, the only database you cannot use from home is Ancestry.com but the Maine State Library is hoping to change that. You can access Maine’s Digital Library at our website.
  • The Bangor Public Library is giving any Maine resident a card (by phone) TumbleBooks, dozens of magazines on Flipster, some classic e-books and unlimited-users audiobooks on RB Digital, and much more. To sign up, any Maine resident can call the Library (947-8336) and get a library card that will give them e-resource access through the end of May. They need to tell us their Maine address and (if they have one) email address and phone number.
  • Many libraries are doing online story time and other creative things. We will post the ones we love and encourage you to share things with us you see online. This is a moment when technology can really shine!
  • We are asking that you keep all library materials at home for now and do not use the book drop. If you receive an email overdue notice, please just ignore it for now.

Portland, March 18— With attention to the guidance from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and upon consideration of the size of the usual congregations, Bishop Robert P. Deeley is temporarily suspending all daily and Sunday Masses and religious services throughout the Diocese of Portland (covering the entire state of Maine), effective immediately, according to a statement from Communications Director, Dave Guthro. The bishop is also issuing a dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass for Maine Catholics during this time. There are nearly 300,000 self-identifying Catholics and 141 active Catholic churches in Maine, the statement says.

Augusta, March 17—Governor Janet Mills today called for the statewide cancellation of Saint Patrick’s events to prevent the gathering of large crowds and further encourage social distancing measures to mitigate the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Maine, according to a press release from the Governor’s office.

In a statement, Mills said, “While I enjoy a good Saint Patrick’s Day celebration as much as the next Mainer, this year’s festivities are only inviting an opportunity to spread COVID-19. Now more than ever, it is critical that Maine people take serious their obligation to mitigate the spread of the virus by engaging in social distancing measures. I am urging event organizers and businesses across the state to cancel their Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations and to follow U.S. CDC guidelines to prevent the gathering of crowds. I recognize the significant impact this can have on our businesses, but we have to keep in mind the significant impact it could have in mitigating the spread of the virus. I believe it is critical for businesses and Maine people to heed this call to protect the health and safety of every person in Maine.”

Ellsworth, March 17— The Ellsworth Public Library will be closed Monday, March 16 and Tuesday, March 17 as a public health measure to slow the spread of the coronavirus, according to the library’s Community Engagement Librarian, Abby Morrow. Library trustees will meet Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. to develop a plan going forward and will provide updates as soon more information is available. Management will monitor the situation daily with local and state officials.

The library has an array of digital resources available, including ebooks and audiobooks, digital music and magazines, and Acorn TV streaming video. Learn more by visiting the library’s website here.

Statewide, March 17—Effective Tuesday, March 17, all of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles offices will be closed to the public until further notice, to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus in Maine, according to the Emergency Citizen Alerts from Maine.gov. All of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles Mobile Unit visits are also suspended until further notice.

Trenton–The Acadia Fire Soccer Academy is cancelling programs and closing its doors for the next 2 weeks in an attempt to reduce the exposure and spread of the coronavirus, according to Director Emily Ellis. Programs are scheduled to resume after March 28th. However, the organization will also comply closely with the recommendations of SoccerMaine and Maine CDC and re-evaluate the status of opening back up for programs prior to the March 28th date.

Bar Harbor, March 13— MDI Biological Laboratory has cancelled all public events, courses, and conferences until May 2. Staff are looking into options for remotely hosting events such as the Science Café, according to a statement issued March 13.

Southwest Harbor—Southwest Harbor Public Library is closing through March 31, according to Assistant Director Kate Pickup McMullin.

St. Mary’s and St. Jude’s Episcopal Church in Northeast Harbor announced a decision to cancel services until April 1. St. Saviour’s Episcopal Church in Bar Harbor announced cancelling services “as long as our society’s health needs us to keep our distance, physically.”

Bar Harbor, March 16– The Mount Desert Island YMCA in Bar Harbor will be closed beginning Monday, March 16, 2020 for two weeks. In two weeks the MDI YMCA will re-evaluate the situation to determine whether or not to reopen.

The YMCA understands that many people come to the Y for the community it brings to people’s lives. The YMCA fitness instructors are working on providing virtual fitness classes for those who want to continue pursuing their personal health goals while at home. Stay tuned to the Y’s Facebook page and e-mail for more information.

Bar Harbor, March 14–Out of an abundance of caution based on recent guidelines from the CDC and local health officials, and with the full support of the Jesup Memorial Library’s Board of Directors, the library will be closed from Saturday, March 14 at 5 p.m. through at least Wednesday, April 1.

“We will continue to reassess the reopening of the library,” said Ruth A. Eveland, Library Director. “While it is always the goal of our library to be that place of last resort in the community, this situation is different from a blizzard and requires a different set of criteria for making decisions. This was a very hard decision for us to make but with the closing of the local schools, we believe this is the right choice to make for our patrons, staff and community.”

During this time, there will be no public services or programs. Please hold on to any of your library books that you have at home. When the library reopens we ask that you return your books then. There will be no late fees on any materials, and no fines will be collected.

At the end of this period, the Board and staff will reassess and make a decision about reopening to the public.

Patrons may use online services including the Maine Downloadable Library through CloudLibrary and access any of our databases through the Digital Maine Library. For links to these websites visit jesuplibrary.org.

Mount Desert: The Northeast Harbor Library is also closed until further notice.

Blue Hill, March 14: The Blue Hill Harbor School announced Saturday that it will be closed indefinitely. The school will be open Monday for students to pick up books and supplies.

Mount Desert Island Regional School System, March 13: MDIRSS schools will be closed starting Monday, March 16, for at least two weeks.

Southwest Harbor, March 13: The Southwest Harbor Town Office will close to public entry effective at 5 p.m. on March 13 and remain that way until further notice. Town business may still be conducted through a service window located to the left of the front entrance. “We will take precautions to limit the transfer of the virus and make every effort to disinfect all surfaces between transactions,” according to officials. Code enforcement will be available by phone and email. Documents may be submitted at the Town Office but may be subject to a quarantine period. “We encourage all residents to minimize social contact in order to slow the spread of this disease and reduce the burden on our health care system. We are asking residents to utilize the following online services for Town business as much as possible,” according to a statement.

Bar Harbor, March 13: Acadia Community Theater made the decision at an emergency meeting of the Board of Directors to indefinitely postpone its production of Matilda, originally scheduled for the first two weekends of April.

Spring sports season postponed, March 13: The MPA Board of Directors and Interscholastic Management Committee voted March 13 to delay the start of the 2020 Spring sports pre-season practice until April 27. “We will continue to monitor the situation and will make the appropriate changes as needed to ensure the safety of all students,” according to a statement.

Ellsworth, March 13: Down East Family YMCA announced March 13 a series of responses to the virus. Friends in Action at the Moore Community Center has closed until April 6. All community usage at the Moore Center has been suspended until that date. Parties/rentals at Y locations have been cancelled or postponed. The Y child care will take preventative safety measures. Cardiac rehabilitation, aqua fitness and older adult fitness programs are suspended until April 6. All youth classes are operating at the time, but Y officials encouraged “everyone over the age of 60+” not to attend youth programs.

Bucksport, March 13: There are no after school or weekend YMCA activities effective March 13.

Ellsworth, March 13: Northern Light Maine Coast Hospital, out of “an abundance of caution,” has decided to postpone the twenty-seventh annual Chefs’ Gala originally scheduled for May 16.

“As a healthcare facility, our priority is to be prepared to care for any potential COVID-19 patients in Maine,” according to a hospital statement. “If you have questions or concerns about COVID-19, we recommend visiting CDC.gov or maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc for the most up to date information.”

Blue Hill, March 13: The Blue Hill Co-op has cancelled all events through the end of March. The natural foods store has also suspended its food bar operation effective Saturday, March 14. The store will offer additional “grab and go” items that are covered and wrapped. Management asks that shoppers be sensitive and only handle those items they wish to purchase.

Ellsworth, March 13: The Grand announces that it will go “dark” until at least March 31, when staff and board members will “reevaluate the threat and adjust plans accordingly.” Staff will take the time to “thoroughly clean and rejuvenate the facility for spring.” April events will not be canceled, but will be rescheduled if need be.

Ellsworth, March 13: The Ellsworth Public Library has postponed the Ellsworth Open House that was scheduled for Wednesday, March 18 from 4-6 p.m. All adult and children’s programming has been cancelled until further notice. Meeting room reservations by outside groups have been suspended. For now, the library will remain open normal hours.

Surry, March 13: The Statehood Bean & Potluck Supper scheduled for Saturday, March 14 has been postponed. A new date will be posted as soon as it is available.

Bucksport, March 13: The Bucksport Bay Area Chamber of Commerce is postponing its annual meeting, which had been scheduled for Thursday, March 19. No new date has been set yet.

Ellsworth, March 12: The Grand Auditorium has canceled the Live in HD transmission of Saturday’s performance of Der Fliegende Holländer at the Metropolitan Opera because the opera has been cancelled in New York City.

Stonington, March 12:  Opera House Arts in Stonington has suspended all of its public events until further notice. Producing Executive Director Per Janson issued the following statement:

“In the interest of limiting the potential spread of COVID-19, we have decided to suspend all of our public events until further notice. This includes suspending the Maine in the Movies film showings we had scheduled for this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

“We recognize that decisions such as ours to suspend public gatherings until further notice come at a cost not only to ourselves as an organization, and to artists and arts staff, but to all who love to gather for our events.

“We at OHA hope that even as all of us are told to keep a social distance, that we continue to maintain strong connections to each other however we safely can, by calling friends and neighbors, by reaching out via email, social media, etc. There is an opportunity in every crisis, and we as an organization will try to think of creative ways to continue to serve our mission and our community in the face of these challenges.”

Statewide, March 12: The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland has announced that “Those who are compromised because of age, illness, or other complicating health issues are excused from Mass,” said Bishop Robert P. Deeley. Holy Mass at Maine parishes will continue with health and safety protocols in place. All large, social gatherings scheduled in the next 30 days at Maine parishes, including dinners, dances and special community events, are postponed/cancelled.

Portland, March 12: The Maine Boatbuilders Show, scheduled in Portland March 20-22, has been postponed indefinitely.

Lamoine, March 12: Following an emergency meeting March 12, the Town of Lamoine has cancelled Lamoine 150! events that had been previously scheduled to precede the Town Meeting March 18. These include a short skit commemorating the town’s first town meeting 150 years ago and refreshments.

“While of historic and social significance, the meal and the skit are not considered an essential part of town governance,” says a statement posted on the town website.

Citizens may decide on their own whether to attend the annual meeting. The town is not planning to cancel the meeting “unless the situation in Maine escalates so quickly that continuing with the meeting is not practical,” the statement says.

Brooksville, March 12: Brooksville Elementary School has postponed a talent show to benefit the Rosanna’s Readers program. The talent show had been scheduled for Saturday, March 14.

Sullivan, March 12: The “Happy Birthday Maine” dinner scheduled for Sunday, March 15, in Sullivan has been cancelled and will not be rescheduled.

Deer Isle, March 12: The Healthy Island Project has cancelled the Men Who Cook fundraiser, which had been scheduled for Saturday, March 14.

Ellsworth, March 12: The Ellsworth American yard sale scheduled for March 28 has been cancelled.

Ellsworth, March 12: Friends in Action, which operates a senior center at the Moore Community Center, is suspending fitness classes until further notice. The gym and office will remain open but will close if Ellsworth schools close due to the coronavirus.

“We do have many volunteers who will be available to deliver pharmacy and food orders to older people throughout the county,” said executive director Jo Cooper. Call 664-6016.

Ellsworth, March 12: EHS step-up night for eighth graders postponed until April or May.

Other school-related event cancellations: The Skills USA conference set for March 18-20 will be replaced by a virtual conference. State Jazz Festival and State Show Choice competition have been cancelled.

Ellsworth, MDI, March 12: The Great Harbor Shootout scheduled for March 13-15 has been cancelled. It is the biggest offseason basketball tournament of the year is about to take over Hancock County. Eighty-six teams had planned to compete.

Augusta, Ellsworth, March 12: Statehood Day celebrations set for Sunday, March 15 have been called off.

Cruise ships, March 12: Princess Cruises announces that it will voluntarily pause global operations for 60 days, impacting voyages departing March 12 to May 10.