By Senator Kimberley Rosen
We are a tough lot, we Mainers. Stoic, a little stubborn, generous to a fault. The kind of folks who rally around a cause and do not shy from a challenge.
That is why it comes as no surprise to see people across the Pine Tree State adapting to life in the midst of a worldwide pandemic.
Like the green shoots of spring flowers, ideas keep popping up all across Maine that allow us to move forward with some sense of normalcy in an otherwise not-so-normal situation.
In my hometown of Bucksport, the Town Office opened to the public again on Monday having adapted to the pandemic with plexiglass shields, cones, and other directions to maintain social distancing, and by all accounts, everyone made the new way of doing business work smoothly.
As we have all become too aware, medical science tells us we must separate in order to reduce the ability of the coronavirus to spread. Still, our young women and men who have completed twelve years of schooling are ready to graduate, and since generations of us who came before them got to celebrate that occasion with a commencement, how can we deny them the same?
Good old Maine ingenuity responded to this challenge in Oxford Hills where the high school will hold its graduation exercises at the local drive-in theater. In nearby Auburn, parents of Edward Little High School seniors will get to cheer on their graduates at a ceremony held at the local airport. What better place is there from which to send off the class of 2020 than a runway?
Maine Maritime Academy, like many other schools, is planning a Virtual Commencement, complete with caps and gowns, on June 6th.
The people of Rockland rely heavily on attracting tourists to their downtown, but social distancing requires space. So, the City Council voted to close Main Street to vehicle traffic to allow shops, bars, and restaurants to move their offerings out into the spacious throughway. Something tells me this will soon become a very big, yet still safe attraction along the Midcoast.
Other cities are also considering closing a street or two in order to allow commerce and public entertainment to return to our lives even if they do so in a smaller, more cautious way than we are used to.
Here and there, we are also demonstrating that we can value personal and public safety while still taking steps to protect the economic health of our friends and neighbors.
Beginning Monday, while guidance from the federal government fails to recognize the essential nature of regular dental visits to our health, state government has decided to look to the Maine Dental Association for guidance instead. Dentists, after all, are medical doctors, fully capable of taking whatever stringent steps are needed to protect their patients. Beginning this week, for the first time in two months, you can get your teeth cleaned and have regular check-ups again.
As we take these small, but significant steps forward out of isolation, we must first be mindful of the safety of everyone. At the same time, we must address the impact of the virus on our economic, physical, and mental health.
Some of the ideas that are emerging that do this may become permanent changes that positively affect our lives for generations to come. Some may even leave us wondering, “Why didn’t we think of this before?”
As the presence of the virus drags onward, the ancient ability of Mainers to adapt and move forward despite great adversity will continue to serve us well, and as our lives change because of the pandemic we will—as we always have—find ways to overcome adversity.
Again, I am State Senator Kimberley Rosen of District 8.
Please be safe and be well.