Here’s the latest message sent to Speaker Gideon’s email list:

Dear Friend –

On Tuesday in the Maine State Legislature, my colleagues and I took decisive action to protect the health and financial security of Maine’s working families during this challenging and unpredictable time. As elected officials, we had a grave and urgent responsibility to confront this crisis – something we knew would only be possible if we worked together.

As we face the weeks and months ahead, there is much uncertainty. But one thing I am sure of is our commitment to taking care of each other and our rugged resiliency. Despite social distancing our communities will come together to find innovative ways to lift spirits. We may not be Italians singing on our balcony, but I know we will find our own ways – whether stacking wood for a neighbor or dropping off groceries to a family in need. Please take care of yourselves and your loved ones during this time and please reach out for assistance when you need it. 

COVID RESPONSE EFFORTS 

The Legislature and Governor Mills worked together to pass a package of emergency measures to respond to COVID-19. 

I put forward an emergency bill creating a COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund that grants Governor Mills access to at least $11 million in State funding for health and economic needs of Mainers and co-sponsored another omnibus emergency bill that gives the State and local officials greater flexibility to respond quickly and provide support to Maine people, workers, and businesses impacted by the virus. That bill includes provisions to:

  • Temporarily expand unemployment insurance benefits for workers impacted by COVID-19. Learn about your eligibility and how to apply at this link.
  • Empower the state Department of Education to waive certain school-day requirements and continue getting meals to kids who need them.
  • Allow remote participation in municipal meetings. Town officials can get more information here.
  • Establish a consumer loan guarantee program to help eligible Mainers access low- or no-interest loans. More information is available on the FAME website.
  • Address the potential need to make changes to the way the June 2020 elections are carried out.
  • Authorize the Governor to prohibit utilities from terminating residential electric and water service.

We also moved a $1 million funding infusion to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, which will be used to supplement federal funds to expand capacity at the State laboratory and to hire and retain critical health care personnel including epidemiologists and public health nurses to respond to the pandemic. 

Across Maine government, this response effort will continue as we work to put in place effective, evidence-based measures to ensure the safety of Maine families, communities and our economy.

TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF AND OTHERS 

Social Distancing: I urge you to follow the current guidance to avoid group gatherings of more than 10 people, limit physical contact such as handshakes and, if you’re an employer and haven’t already, consider instituting work from home or paid time off options to the fullest extent possible.

Avoid Travel: Postpone any unnecessary out-of-state travel.

Keep Healthy: Practice the same preventive measures you would to prevent catching a cold – wash your hands often, cover coughs and sneezes, stay home if you are sick.

Call Your Doctor: If you are exhibiting any cold or flu symptoms or believe you may have been exposed to the coronavirus, call your medical provider.   

COVID 19 INFORMATIONAL RESOURCES

We are also offering a variety of resources to make sure you are aware of any changes in the coronavirus status or in the state’s response, including:

211 Maine: Get answers at any time by dialing 211 (or 1-866-811-5695), texting your ZIP code to 898-211, or emailing info@211maine.org.

Maine CDC Coronavirus Website: Sign up for email updates, learn more about the coronavirus and get the latest status in Maine at www.maine.gov/dhhs/coronavirus. 

U.S. CDC Coronavirus Website: Get nationwide and global updates and learn more about the coronavirus at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/

HOW TO GET IN TOUCH WITH MY OFFICE

I wanted to let you know about some changes to my office in Augusta. Starting today, our State House staff will be working remotely and all meetings will be held virtually. I’ve taken these precautions to keep my staff, constituents, and our community safe and adhere to the CDC’s social distancing guidelines. Our offices will continue to serve constituents through email and phone calls. As your representatives in state government, we want to help you navigate these uncertain times and the resources that may be available. Please call us at 287-1300 or email us at info@speakergideon.com. You can find a full staff listing here and please check www.speakergideon.com for frequent updates. 

There is much we still don’t know about the days and weeks ahead, but what I do know is that we are all in this together and we are resilient. 

Sending you best wishes for your health and safety,

Sara Gideon