Since Maine’s first case of COVID-19 was announced on March 12, individuals across our state have sprung into action. People in our community have quickly adapted to protect public health, from temporarily closing schools and businesses to moving to remote work, practicing social distancing and more. I am grateful and proud for the consideration and support we are providing each other, and wanted to provide some additional insight and resources.
In our coastal community, I know many of us are worried about our fishing industries. I have been heartened by the number of people going out of their way to buy local seafood and support our fishermen, but we will certainly need additional help to push through this unprecedented moment. Gov. Mills has called on President Trump to marshal the resources of the federal government to support Maine’s fishing and seafood industries. I hope that will result in direct financial assistance, subsidies, operating loans or loan deferments and any other measure that could help these industries that are so critical to our Maine economy.
We are also a community driven by our small business economy, and I wanted to stress a few resources available to our local businesses and the folks they employ. The US Small Business Administration is offering Maine more access to Economic Impact Disaster Loans. Businesses can check eligibility and apply online. As part of our efforts to make unemployment insurance benefits more accessible, employers can use a Maine Department of Labor program called Workshare to make sure their employees get partial unemployment benefits if their hours are reduced. Plus, we’ve made more consumer loans available at low-to-no interest with the help of Maine lenders.
Beyond these resources, I have been astounded at the creativity many of our small businesses have shown by shifting to delivering their goods or providing services digitally to avoid closing. I’ve also been touched by community members buying gift cards to local shops and finding other ways to support our business community. We are all in this together, and I’m so grateful for the kindness I’m seeing.
On that note, we have likely all heard by now that COVID-19 is more easily contracted by seniors, and that the virus takes a larger toll on those individuals. For that reason, I ask all in our community to reach out to the seniors in our lives to offer assistance in running errands and connecting with resources. I am grateful to the many grocery stores that have opened up senior shopping hours and to the youth in our community making calls to our aging neighbors to provide companionship and keep their social connections from fraying. I am happy to connect any seniors with additional support.
And of course, using me as a resource is an offer extended to all in our community. While the Legislature has adjourned, I and my staff are still here to serve. Please don't hesitate to reach out at email@example.com or call or text to 207-633-5979 if there is anything we can do to help.
Finally, if you have questions or concerns about COVID-19, the Maine CDC has set up a hotline that is available by calling 211 or 866-811-5695. It can also be reached by texting your zip code to 207-898-211 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
It remains an honor to serve you in the Legislature and to help us all weather this pandemic safely.