Sen. Jeff Timberlake on Response to the Coronavirus

Maine Senate Republican Weekly Radio Address – 3/13/20

With the announcement that Maine now has its first case of the coronavirus, state government is taking steps to limit its spread.

Hello, I am Assistant Senate Republican Leader Jeff Timberlake of District 22.

Yesterday, Governor Mills announced the steps that her administration is taking statewide, including her recommendation that organizers consider canceling all events of more than 250 people for at least the next 30 days.

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending the cancellation of “all non-essential, large, indoor group gatherings.”

The “Statehood Day” planned for Sunday in Augusta to celebrate the Maine Bicentennial, has been canceled.

Here at the legislature we are working on what we anticipate will be an expedited schedule, in an effort to complete our remaining work in the shortest time possible without neglecting the right of the people to observe and participate in the legislative process.

We will do our best to ensure the health and safety of our members, staff, and all those who visit the State Capitol building.

Committees will continue their work and the public is welcome to attend and provide testimony. We ask, however, that whenever possible, those wishing to submit testimony consider using their discretion to do so electronically rather than in person if they are able.

Those wishing to watch the proceedings in the House and Senate chambers or to listen to committee deliberations, please visit www.legislature.maine.gov.

All tours, concerts and events in the Capitol building, including the Hall of Flags, have been canceled.

Of the 31 deaths confirmed in the U.S. by the CDC as of Thursday, 20 of them are from nursing homes. On Wednesday, new outbreaks were reported in 12 more of these facilities.

When he briefed the nation on Wednesday evening, President Trump made special note of the threat that this virus poses to our seniors and particularly nursing facilities.

“The highest risk is for the elderly population with underlying health conditions. The elderly population must be very, very careful. In particular, we are strongly advising that nursing homes for the elderly suspend all medically unnecessary visits.”

The world is experiencing a pandemic that disproportionately affects patients in nursing homes and Maine has the oldest population in the nation.

Recognizing this and that Maine’s nursing homes and assisted living facilities are in the midst of a funding crisis that has left them specifically vulnerable to this virus, we will continue to do everything we can to provide the resources they need to continue to care for their patients.

Dr. Nirav Shah, the director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, will be briefing the legislature at least weekly and more adjustments and actions are always possible.

This is a very fluid situation that could change daily, if not hourly, as new information becomes available.

In the meantime, we will do our best to keep working and to keep you informed of any changes as they occur.

To keep informed about any announcements by Governor Mills, see www.maine.gov.

To follow the legislature and its activities and announcements, see www.legislature.maine.gov.

Again, I am Assistant Senate Republican Leader Jeff Timberlake of District 22.

Be safe and well.

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