Rep. Trey Stewart: Maine’s response to the coronavirus

Hi, this is Trey Stewart, the Assistant House Republican Leader with this week’s Republican Radio Address.

By now, most of you have heard about the spread of the coronavirus.

Today, I want to talk about how Maine is preparing to respond to the public health threat posed by the coronavirus disease.

The coronavirus is a respiratory illness that can spread person to person.

It was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China.

It is now spreading throughout the world and in parts of the United States.

So far, there have been no identified cases in the State of Maine.

This week, House Republicans and other members of the Legislature and staff, received a briefing from Maine CDC Director Shah and Maine Emergency Management Agency Director Rogers. They provided us with the latest updates on the coronavirus.

Symptoms are similar to the flu, and can include:

-Fever

-Cough, and

-Shortness of breath

Call your doctor, and avoid emergency room exposure if you develop symptoms, and have been in close contact with a person known to have the virus… or have been to an affected area.

Because these areas can, and likely will change, public health officials here in Maine are working to prepare for the virus.

Additionally, the Maine CDC said that the state’s Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory has conducted roughly a dozen tests for coronavirus with all of them coming back negative for the virus.

The U.S. CDC updated guidelines to expand the criteria for what makes individuals with symptoms of the virus eligible for testing.

Symptoms resemble that of the flu, and may include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

Again, Maine has no confirmed cases of coronavirus at this time.

Maine CDC previously reported that one individual who met earlier federal testing criteria has tested negative.

In response to the expansion of federal criteria, more individuals in Maine are being tested.

To support Maine’s response, the Legislature has sped up the transfer of necessary funding to purchase testing equipment.

Maine CDC has received the new equipment, and state lab staff are calibrating it and taking other steps to prepare for more testing.

Legislators have been told that the Maine CDC will inform the public if positive tests are confirmed, and will offer regular updates on testing recommendations.

The number of positive test results will also be posted to Maine CDC’s coronavirus webpage.

The number of requests for testing will increase, as the situation continues to evolve globally and in the United States. Moving forward, tests will be conducted by both Maine CDC and the U.S. CDC to facilitate prompt results.

Individuals who exhibit symptoms should contact their health care providers, who will make the initial determination on whether corona virus testing is advisable. 

If testing is recommended, medical providers will alert the Maine CDC to coordinate testing. As appropriate, health providers will take samples and submit them to the Maine CDC.

Do not panic, but please take precautions.

-Avoid close contact with people who are sick

-Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, or sleeve

-Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth

-Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces

-Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care, and

-Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

The purpose of providing this information is to help ensure the recommendations of the CDC are widely known. We encourage you to follow them, to protect yourselves and help slow the spread of the virus.

Please do not panic.

Maine is well equipped to identify and contain the virus should it become necessary.

The State of Maine and the federal government are working hard to prevent the spread of coronavirus and reduce its impact in areas where it is present.

This has been State Representative Trey Stewart with the Weekly Republican Radio Address.        

Thank you for listening.

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