AUGUSTA – Today, Gov. Janet T. Mills declared an insurance emergency following the first presumptive positive case of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Maine. Presiding Officers Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, and House Speaker Sara Gideon, D-Freeport, released the following statements on what the news means for the remainder of the legislative session.

Speaker Gideon: 

“As COVID-19 continues to spread through the United States and the latest case here in Maine, we are monitoring the situation closely, following the guidance of the Maine Centers for Disease Control and Maine Emergency Management Agency, and taking necessary precautions to protect the health and safety of legislators, staff and members of the public. The declaration of an insurance emergency will help make sure that a health crisis doesn’t turn into a financial crisis for those who might contract the virus.”

“In order to reduce the risk of exposure by curtailing unnecessary contact, the legislature will be temporarily ending public tours, concerts, Hall of Flags events, and other large gatherings, and by closing the viewing galleries to the public. Our work will continue, but we must do our part to keep Mainers safe and that means following the best guidance available.”

“We urge all Mainers to follow best practices: Wash your hands often for 20 seconds. Cover coughs and sneezes. Stay home if you are sick. As Presiding Officers, we will continue to reassess the situation and Senate President Jackson and I will always put the safety and well-being of Mainers first.” 

President Jackson:

“With the outbreak of COVID-19 across the country and the latest case in Maine, lawmakers are monitoring the situation closely, consulting with public health experts and exploring all of our options to promote and protect the health and well-being of Maine people. I know a lot of people are watching the news coverage and are scared for themselves and their loved ones – I don’t blame you. This proclamation allows Maine to stay ahead of the curve and make sure insurance companies cover all costs related to testing for the virus. 

“For now, the Legislature will continue its work. However, public events in the Hall of Flags will be canceled for the remainder of session and the gathering of crowds at the State House is discouraged to prevent the spread of the virus. The seats in the Senate Chamber remain open to the public. Members of the press will still be able to be in the chamber and cover the senate. Presiding officers will continue to reassess in consultation with the Maine Center for Disease Control and Maine Emergency Management Association on a daily basis.

“As we watch what is happening with COVID-19 across the country and the globe, it’s important for folks to do everything they can to keep themselves healthy. This includes washing your hands often for the recommended 20 seconds, covering your mouth when you cough and/or sneeze, and avoiding groups of large people whenever possible.”

President Jackson and Speaker Gideon urge legislators, their constituents, staff and members of the public to please stay up to date with the following trusted resources: