Thursday, March 26, 2020

Select Coastal State Parks Closed Due to Overcrowding

Bureau of Parks and Lands announces steps to help slow the spread of coronavirus
The Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Bureau of Parks and Lands (BPL) today announced that, with the support of Governor Janet Mills, it is taking additional proactive measures to protect the health and safety of Maine people from the threat of COVID-19. Effective Friday, March 27 at 12:01 am, the following Midcoast and Southern Maine coastal State Parks and beaches are closed until April 8: Reid State Park, Popham Beach State Park, Fort Popham, Fort Baldwin, Kettle Cove State Park, Two Lights State Park, Crescent Beach State Park, Scarborough Beach State Park, Ferry Beach State Park, and Mackworth Island. (Note that the closure could be extended depending on the spread of the potentially deadly virus.)

Overcrowding in the past few weeks has made it increasingly difficult for the public to implement appropriate physical distancing. As a result, the department is closing select coastal parks and beaches and monitoring visitation at all State Parks. Additionally, last weekend, the BPL recorded heavy use at Sebago Lake State Park, Range Pond State Park, Wolfe’s Neck State Park and Bradbury Mountain State Park. With warm temperatures, overcrowding may become an issue requiring additional measures in these and other State Parks. The BPL is calling on visitors to be mindful of crowding and to seek alternate close-to-home spots to get outside, including back yards and neighborhoods, land trust trails, wildlife management areas, and public lands.
"Closing any of our State Parks is the last thing we want to do," DACF Commissioner Amanda Beal stated. "We are keeping as many parks as possible open, and we encourage people to look for ways to take much-needed breaks in the outdoors that allow them to avoid crowded places and maintain physical distancing." 
The department will work closely with local, county, and state public safety officials as it modifies park operations. Other measures taken to date by the BPL include canceling all park events and closing all playgrounds and public restrooms. Additional steps under consideration for this weekend involve restricting vehicular traffic and parking at some parks to reduce the concentration of visitors.
The BPL has set up a webpage with a list of park closures and descriptions of curtailed services at www.parksandlands.com/covid19. During the closures, BPL staff will continue patrolling parks and will work with local and state law enforcement to enforce all coronavirus guidelines and park regulations.
To support Maine CDC's efforts to flatten the COVID-19 curve throughout the state, BPL is asking the public to play their part. Flattening the curve is our shared mission. With working together in mind, here are a few reminders developed by the Departments of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry and Inland Fish and Wildlife on how to get fresh air while staying safe.

Avoid crowds
  • Visit a lesser-known spot and explore places close to home. Consider visiting a nearby Wildlife Management Area, or less trafficked state parkpublic land, or local land trust.
  • Have a plan B (and C). If your first destination has a busy parking lot, go to the next spot on your list! Maine Trail Finder is a great resource.
  • Get outside earlier or later in the day to avoid peak times, and please keep your visits brief.
  • Recharge in your backyard and neighborhood! Backyard adventures in the time of coronavirus are an excellent idea. Remind friends and neighbors to stay safe by tagging Instagram pics with #backyardpark.
Know before you go
  • If you are exhibiting symptoms related to COVID-19, or if you have recently been exposed to COVID-19, please stay home.
  • Stay at least six feet away from other people.
  • If you do decide to go for hike, remember trails are likely to be slippery from ice and mud, which can increase the difficulty level. Stick to easy trails to avoid injuries and further stress on health care resources.
  • Be sure to tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back.
  • Be prepared for limited access to public restrooms (use the bathroom before you leave home).
  • Always leave no trace, including cleaning up after your pet, so be sure to bring a disposable bag to carry out any waste.
  • And remember to take precautions to prevent exposure to ticks by wearing light-colored pants, closed-toe shoes, and applying EPA-approved bug repellent.
The BPL is closely monitoring the coronavirus situation and following guidance provided by the Governor's Office and the Maine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Maine Emergency Management Agency.

Answers to questions about Maine State Park Closures

Q: Can I enter one of the CLOSED Maine State Parks anyway?

A: No. Entering a closed State Park is considered trespassing.

Q: Can I park on the street or road outside of an OPEN Maine State Park and walk in?

A: Everyone is required to respect parking signage on roads adjacent to State Parks and to respect our neighbors.

Q: How might my visit to an OPEN State Park be different than usual?

A: With schools and businesses closed, our State Parks are seeing above-average use for this time year. With increased numbers comes the need to be extra vigilant and follow precautions advised by the Maine CDC. Guidance includes frequent washing of hands for at least 20 seconds using soap and hot water, coughing and sneezing into tissues, and promptly disposing of the tissue, and avoiding touching eyes, nose, and mouth. It is also important is to prevent gatherings of 10 or more people and to practice physical distancing of at least six feet, from person to person. For the latest Maine CDC guidance, visit their website.

Q: What do curtailed services mean?

A: At OPEN State Parks, hours of operation are 9 am to sunset unless otherwise posted; all park events and programs are cancelled; playgrounds and restroom facilities are closed to the public. Please note park access may change without notice.

Mills Administration Takes Steps to Support Nursing Homes in Response to COVID-19

Additional payments part of broader strategy to adapt policies to support Maine people
AUGUSTA – Governor Janet Mills and Commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Jeanne Lambrew announced today a new measure helping the state's nursing facilities meet the financial challenges posed by COVID-19.

DHHS is providing additional payments through MaineCare to support nursing facilities' efforts related to infection control and visitor screening to protect workers and the residents in their care. Nursing facilities may request supplemental reimbursement through an "extraordinary circumstance allowance," which is available to help facilities address costs associated with unforeseen events outside of their control. DHHS has asked nursing facilities to track and submit costs beyond their normal operating expenses, such as:
  • Staffing above and beyond customary levels necessary to maintain proper ratios and to monitor residents and screen visitors;
  • Supplies and personal protective equipment, such as alcohol-based hand sanitizers, face masks, and gowns, beyond the amounts typically purchased.

Reimbursement requests will be considered for expenses starting March 1, 2020.

"We know COVID-19 poses a significant threat to older Mainers, like those who live in our state's nursing facilities, which is why my Administration is working closely with these facilities to do all we can to protect their residents," said Governor Mills. "This new measure will financially support nursing facilities as they implement additional protections to ensure the health and safety of those they serve."

"This support for nursing facilities is just one part of our broader strategy to support medical, behavioral health, and long-term care providers during this rapidly evolving situation," said Commissioner Lambrew. "We're pursuing additional steps to support the health and wellbeing of Mainers who rely on DHHS programs and services."

This new initiative comes as part of the Administration's ongoing work to adapt policies in response to the outbreak. Governor Mills has strongly urged long-term care facilities in Maine to prohibit all visitors and non-essential health care personnel, except for certain compassionate care circumstances such as an end of life situation, until further notice. DHHS continues to share with nursing facilities federal guidance about infection control and visitor screening to protect workers and the residents in their care.

This extraordinary circumstance allowance builds on the investment in nursing facilities through a cost-of-living increase in the biennial budget and other increases to their rates. The Mills Administration also successfully worked last fall to ensure that the State could increase funding for nursing home facilities without jeopardizing critical federal funding. As a result, MaineCare nursing facility rates will increase, on average, by 5 percent for Fiscal Year 2020 and facilities will receive another rate increase starting on July 1, 2020.

DHHS remains committed to partnering with all health and social services providers to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the people in their care. Among other investments, the revised supplemental budget passed by the Legislature on March 17 includes $15 million for payment rate increases to support direct health care providers who are caring for older Mainers, people with disabilities, and children and adults with behavioral health needs.

The Administration is also preparing to apply to the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for regulatory relief and alternative ways to support and deliver residential and other services for DHHS clients in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Additionally, the Administration will swiftly implement federal funding for Maine people and providers newly available through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act signed into law last week, which includes support for Medicaid, paid sick leave, unemployment, food and nutrition programs, and testing for uninsured individuals, among other areas.

The Mills Administration continues to take action to ensure Maine people have access to needed benefits and services in response to COVID-19. Last week, DHHS announced steps to ensure access to health care, food, and basic necessities. Actions that DHHS is taking on COVID-19 can be found on our Coronavirus Resources page.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Governor Mills Acts to Promote Access to Health Care During COVID-19

Two new orders bolster health care workforce and telehealth

The Administration of Governor Janet Mills has taken two actions to promote Maine people’s access to health care in response to COVID-19, which bolster the health care work force and facilitate the expansion of telehealth.

“I am committed to ensuring that Maine people have access to quality, affordable health care as we respond to COVID-19,” said Governor Mills. “As a result of these actions, I am hopeful that more Maine people will be able to get counseling, prescriptions, and treatment from their trusted health care providers from the safety of their homes whenever possible and without sacrificing other basic necessities.”

“These changes advance Maine’s role as a national leader in supporting telehealth and make it possible for more of our patients and health care providers to connect online and over the phone rather than in person,” said Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew. “We stand ready to work with providers to ensure patients can get the health care they need, especially with so many Maine people staying home to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

First, Governor Mills has signed an Executive Order (PDF) allowing licensed physicians, physician assistants, and nurses greater flexibility to contribute to Maine’s response during the civil state of emergency. Those who are licensed and in good standing in other states can now:
  • Receive an emergency license to provide health care in person or through telehealth to Maine people, with no application fee
  • See Maine patients through telehealth without obtaining a Maine license, if already serving those patients at out-of-state locations
  • Have their licenses automatically renewed if up for renewal during the state of emergency
  • Suspend conforming to physician oversight requirements (for physician assistants and advanced practice registered nurses)
  • Reactivate their license immediately with no application fee, if retired.
Additionally, all physicians, physician assistants and nurses licensed in Maine and those authorized under the order may provide services through all methods of telehealth, including video, audio and other electronic technologies to treat Maine people for all medical needs. The order expands acceptable technologies beyond only those that are compliant with patient privacy laws, to align Maine with major changes made by the federal government that provide broad coverage for telehealth services for Medicare members.

In addition to this Executive Order, the Administration’s second action also aligns Maine with federal guidance and improves the affordability of needed health care services delivered through telehealth. To implement the Governor’s initiative, Superintendent of Insurance Eric Cioppa on Friday signed an order that requires insurance companies to provide coverage for clinically-appropriate services delivered by telephone, as well as via more commonly used apps, such as FaceTime, WhatsApp and Skype, as long as they are private. This provides flexibility to patients who may not have access to web-based applications traditionally used for telehealth.

“The telehealth order allows health care providers greater options in delivering care to Mainers,” said Cioppa. “The change will allow people to have virtual house calls, providing them with the health care they need, while at the same time maintaining social distancing.”

The Superintendent’s order also requires insurance carriers to pay providers for telehealth services at the same rate they would pay for an in-person visit for the same service. This supports health care providers who are following national and state recommendations to postpone in-person appointments for non-urgent care and makes it more likely that patients will be able to get the care they need through telehealth visits.

MaineCare, or Medicaid, already pays the same rate for most covered services whether delivered in person or through telehealth. Last week, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced an expansion of this already robust policy through an emergency rule change that allows for prescribing through telehealth. Maine DHHS has long supported the promotion of telehealth services, as described in a new fact sheet.

The Insurance Superintendent’s authority extends only to fully-insured health plans -- not to Medicare Advantage or self-insured plans. The Governor urges all self-insured large employers in Maine to adopt the same policies to ensure their employees continue to get the care they need.

DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew and the Northeast Telehealth Resource Center will host a statewide virtual statewide Telehealth Town Hall meeting on Thursday, March 26 for health providers to explain these changes and announce a range of resources (PDF) available to support them in using telehealth services.

Additionally, DHHS reconstituted a statewide Telehealth Advisory Committee in 2019 to promote consistent practices across health care payers, use of tele-psychiatry in emergency departments, and use of telehealth for new workforce models.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Governor Mills Orders Further Steps to Protect Public Health

Governor also urges large essential businesses to limit in-store customers, enhance curbside pick-up and delivery services, and implement physical distancing measures to protect customer and employee health

Under the authority granted to her during a State of Civil Emergency, Governor Janet Mills today issued an Executive Order (PDF) mandating that all non-essential businesses and operations in Maine close their physical locations that are public facing, meaning those that allow customer, vendor or other in-person contact. The Order also closes non-essential business sites that require more than ten workers to convene in a space where physical distancing is not possible. Non-essential businesses and operations may continue activities that do not involve these types of in-person contact and convenings, and should facilitate the maximum number of employees working remotely.

The Order is effective tomorrow, March 25, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. and extends for a period of 14 days through April 8, 2020 at 12:00 a.m.

It solidifies as a mandate her previous recommendation to close non-essential business sites.

Governor Mills also strongly urged all large, essential, public-facing businesses to immediately employ strategies to reduce congestion in their stores, including limiting the number of customers in the store at any one time and enhancing curbside pick-up and delivery services. These measures, aimed specifically at high-traffic retail stores in Maine that provide essential goods and services, seek to better protect both customers and employees from the threat of COVID-19.

“Today, I am taking further action to mitigate the spread of the virus, to protect the health of our loved ones and fellow citizens, and to safeguard the capacity of our health care system,” said Governor Mills. “I recognize these decisions will create significant difficulties for people and businesses across our state, but we are confronting an unprecedented challenge that is threatening the health and safety of our people.”

“Maine people should live their lives as if COVID-19 is in their community,” said Nirav D. Shah, Director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. “Physical distancing in every part of Maine is crucial to limit potential spread of the virus. You can be there for loved ones without being in the same place.”

Governor Mills continues to strongly urge all Maine people to practice physical distancing. She particularly urged Maine residents who are considered at higher risk from COVID-19, such as older Mainers and those with underlying health conditions, to limit physical interactions with other people as much as possible.

Non-essential businesses and operations subject to the Governor’s Executive Order include, but are not limited to, shopping malls, fitness and exercise gyms, spas, barber shops, hair salons, tattoo and piercing parlors, massage facilities, nail technicians, cosmetologists and estheticians, electrolysis services, laser hair removal services, and similar personal care and treatment facilities and services.

The Executive Order excludes businesses that provide essential services including, but not limited to: food processing, agriculture, industrial manufacturing, construction, trash collection, grocery and household goods (including convenience stores), home repair and hardware and auto repair, pharmacy and other medical facilities, biomedical, behavioral health and health care providers, child care, post offices and shipping outlets, insurance, banks, gas stations, laundromats, veterinary clinics and animal feed and supply stores, shipping stores, public transportation, and hotel and commercial lodging.

State government remains open, but offices have significantly moved to telework and dispatch from home, limited client engagement, and have required physical distancing within office buildings. The Department of Administrative and Financial Services estimates that 70 percent of state government employees, not including 24/7, emergency, and public safety personnel, are working remotely. The Governor urges Maine people to avail themselves of the state’s online services and resources.

For those essential businesses that remain open, Governor Mills strongly urged them to implement physical distancing measures. She specifically urged high-traffic retail stores in Maine that provide essential goods and services to immediately employ strategies to reduce congestion in their stores, including:
  • For stores with a physical retail space of more than 5,000 feet, limiting customers to no more than 100 at any one time;
  • Enhancing their curbside pick-up and delivery services;
  • Staggering their hours for shoppers of a certain age;
  • Closing fitting rooms;
  • Cautioning customers against handling merchandise they are not purchasing;
  • Marking six-foot measurements by the cashier stations and reminding customers to remain six feet apart while in store;
  • Staggering break times for employees and require frequent hand-washing;
  • Frequently sanitizing high-touch areas, such as shopping carts.
These measures come as Governor Mills seeks to strengthen physical distancing measures in Maine to better protect both customers and employees from the threat of COVID-19. Physical distancing is considered one of the most effective methods to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

If the function of your business is not listed, but you believe that it is essential, you may request designation as an essential business at https://www.maine.gov/essentialservice
Questions may also be directed to business.answers@maine.gov.

To align with today’s Executive Order, Governor Mills today also renewed her previous Executive Order prohibiting gatherings of more than ten people and the closure of dine-in service at restaurants and bars in Maine to extend its timeframe to April 8, 2020 at 12:00 a.m. Today’s Executive Order does not modify the previous Executive Order in any other manner.

Governor Mills is taking into consideration all COVID-19 response options, including a stay-at-home restriction. She is consulting with the Maine CDC, other clinicians and health system leaders, other states that have invoked this option, and other members of her Coronavirus Response Team. Those discussions are ongoing, and include, but are not limited to the public health efficacy of such orders compared to existing measures, Maine-specific factors, and their potential secondary health and economic implications. The Governor will make recommendations based upon their advice and what she deems is in the best interest of the health and safety of Maine people.

The Governor has taken steps to protect Maine workers and small businesses impacted by COVID-19. Upon Governor Mills’ request, the Small Business Administration (SBA) declared that Maine businesses are now eligible to apply for economic support loans to help them overcome any temporary loss of revenue due to COVID-19. Additionally, the emergency omnibus package she signed temporarily revises eligibility for unemployment insurance to extend it to individuals whose employment has been impacted by COVID-19. It also temporarily waives the one week waiting period for benefits so that workers may obtain benefits faster and ensures that claims for UI will not affect an employer’s experience rating. It also establishes a consumer loan guarantee program through FAME, in partnership with financial institutions, to provide low- or no- interest loans for eligible people in Maine.
These new steps from the Governor build on the work done by the Mills Administration to respond to COVID-19, including:
For more information on Maine’s response to COVID-19 and updated testing results, visit the Maine CDC website.
The best thing that Maine people can do to protect their health is to practice physical distancing and take the same preventive measures that avoid catching a cold: Wash your hands often for 20 seconds. Cover coughs and sneezes. Stay home if you are sick. Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, shortness of breath, and lower respiratory distress. Call ahead to a health care professional if you develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness.Health care providers will make the initial determination on whether COVID-19 testing is necessary.

City Announces Stay At Home Emergency Order Effective Wednesday, March 25 at 5:00 PM

Restricts all non-essential personal and business services

PORTLAND, Maine -- Mayor Kate Snyder and Portland City Manager Jon Jennings announced today at a 3:00 PM press conference that the City Manager has signed an emergency stay at home order for all non-essential businesses and services in Portland. The order goes into effect at 5:00 PM on Wednesday, March 25 and has measures that apply to both residents and businesses. The order is good for five days, and any extensions will have to be approved by the City Council, which is expected to host a remote meeting on Monday, March 30. The stay at home order is in response to the need to lessen the community spread of the global pandemic, COVID-19. 

“I was propelled to take this action based on the data we have related to the number of positive COVID-19 cases in Southern Maine,” said City Manager Jon Jennings. “This was not an easy decision to make given the impacts it will further have on our economy, but my hope in doing this stay at home order now is that if we restrict as many activities as possible for a short time, then we can re-emerge from this crisis sooner. It is essential for anyone living in Cumberland or York counties to take this very seriously. We can flatten the curve in Southern Maine if we act now.” 

“With 90 of 118 confirmed cases in Southern Maine, we are obligated to take additional measures to protect public health,” said Mayor Kate Snyder. “We know this is a person to person virus that requires vigilant social distancing in order to stem the spread. Portland’s early actions laid the base for today’s additional, aggressively cautious measures. The City Council is in support of the Manager’s action, and appreciative of this expansion of efforts that seeks to safeguard people, and alleviate the inevitable strain on our health care system.”

Portland’s City Code (Chapter 2, section 2-406) authorizes the City Manager to issue an emergency proclamation when a civil emergency exists. It further allows for the City Manager and the Council to exercise emergency powers to protect life and property, restrict the movement of persons within the city, and other regulations necessary to preserve the public peace, health, and safety (Chapter 2, section 2-408). 

About the Emergency Order
The order is issued in accordance with, and incorporates by reference, the March 15, 2020 Executive Order issued by Governor Janet T. Mills.  

More specifically, the following provisions should still be complied with within the City of Portland:

A. Gatherings of more than ten (10) people are prohibited throughout the State. Gatherings subject to the Governor's Executive Order are those that are primarily social, personal, and discretionary events other than employment. Such gatherings include, without limitation, community, civic, public, leisure, and faith-based events; social clubs; sporting events with spectators; concerts, conventions, fundraisers, parades, fairs, and festivals; and any similar event or activity in a venue such as an auditorium, stadium, arena, large conference room, meeting hall, theatre, gymnasium, fitness center or private club; and

B. All restaurants and bars shall close their dine-in facilities. Such businesses that offer carry-out, delivery, and drive-through food and beverage service may continue to do so but eating and drinking inside restaurants and bars is still temporarily prohibited.

3. The business, production and service sectors that qualify as “COVID-19 Essential Services” are outlined in this document. The City Manager shall amend and publish updates to the document as is determined necessary in response to conditions as they develop.

4. All individuals currently living within the City of Portland are ordered to stay at their place of residence. To the extent individuals are using shared or outdoor spaces, they must at all times as reasonably possible maintain social distancing of at least six (6) feet from any other person with whom they don’t share a household when they are outside their residence. All persons may leave their residences only to access COVID-19 Essential Services or as otherwise expressly provided herein. Individuals experiencing homelessness are exempt from this requirement, but are strongly urged to obtain shelter, and be at least six (6) feet from any other person, to the maximum extent practicable and possible.  

5. All travel including, but not limited to, travel on foot, bicycle, scooter, motorcycle, golf carts, automobile, or public transit, for COVID-19 Essential Services is permitted. Outdoor exercise and/or dog walking is also specifically permitted. All individuals are encouraged to not use or congregate on City playgrounds, and it is recommend that all individuals should seek, to the maximum extent possible, to be at least six (6) feet from any other person with whom they do not share a household with when engaged in any travel or exercise activities on City streets, trails, grounds, fields, tennis or basketball courts or other outdoor areas.  

6. The requirements in Paragraphs 4 and 5, above, shall not apply to police officers, peace officers, firefighters, EMS, or other emergency personnel or civilians engaged in police or emergency work, persons performing essential governmental functions, nor shall it apply to health-care providers or workers traveling to or coming from work assignments in hospitals or other health-care facilities whether in or outside of the City of Portland. Those requirements shall also not apply to authorized representatives of any news service, newspaper or radio or television station or network. 

7. All businesses with a facility in the City of Portland that do not provide COVID-19 Essential Services, shall close their physical workspaces and facilities (“brick-and-mortar premises”) to workers, customers, and the public as of the effective date and time of this proclamation. Businesses that do not provide COVID-19 Essential Services are encouraged to continue operations through remote means that do not require workers, customers, or the public to enter or appear at the brick-and-mortar premises closed pursuant to this proclamation. With that said, such non-essential businesses may continue to access their brick-and-mortar premises in order to conduct essential business functions including, but not limited to, processing mail, depositing checks, completing payroll and paying vendors; as long as social distancing requirements are being implemented, and the fewest number of employees possible are on premises when conducting such services. Churches, temples, mosques, and other places of worship shall not be required to close their brick-and-mortar premises to employees or to the public; provided, however, that such institutions shall be required to comply with all limitations on gatherings established by Governor Janet T. Mills’ March 15, 2020 executive order outlined in paragraph 2 above.

9. All businesses providing COVID-19 Essential Services are strongly encouraged to remain open. To the greatest extent feasible, COVID-19 Essential Services shall comply with social distancing protocols by maintaining at least six (6) feet of physical distance from other people, including other employees and members of the public, including, but not limited to, when any customers are standing in line, and allow and encourage remote working where practical.

10. This proclamation shall be effective as of March 25, 2020 5:00 p.m.

11. As per Chapter 2, section 2-407, this order shall remain in effect for five (5) days unless and until it is renewed by the Portland City Council. 

12. Violation of or failure to comply with this Order is punishable by a fine of $500.00 per occurrence plus the costs of prosecution. 

Anyone wishing to report violations related to this order can call the Portland Police Department at 207-874-8479.

The public is encouraged to stay up to date on the latest information from the  Maine CDC. The City is posting information related to COVID-19 resources on a dedicated page at https://www.portlandmaine.gov/COVID19

Monday, March 23, 2020

Weather Alert: Winter Storm Warnings/Advisories Issued For Maine Tonight

Southern Oxford-Interior York-Central Interior Cumberland-
Androscoggin-Interior Cumberland Highlands-
Including the cities of Bethel, Bryant Pond, Hanover,
Locke Mills, Milton, Newry, Rumford, Norway, Fryeburg, Oxford,
Hollis, Alfred, Lebanon, Sanford, Goodwins Mills, Buxton,
Limington, Berwick, New Gloucester, Gray, North Windham, Gorham,
Greene, Lewiston, Sabattus, Wales, Minot, Turner, Auburn,
Livermore Falls, Bridgton, Harrison, and Naples
948 AM EDT Mon Mar 23 2020

...WINTER STORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 7 PM THIS EVENING
TO 6 AM EDT TUESDAY...

* WHAT...Heavy snow expected. Total snow accumulations of 4 to 7
  inches expected.

* WHERE...Southern Oxford, Central Interior Cumberland, Interior
  York, Interior Cumberland Highlands and Androscoggin Counties.

* WHEN...From 7 PM this evening to 6 AM EDT Tuesday.

* IMPACTS...Slick travel is likely. The hazardous conditions will
  impact the Tuesday morning commute. The wet nature of the snow
  could cause limbs to fall, resulting in power outages.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

If you must travel, keep an extra flashlight, food, and water in
your vehicle in case of an emergency.

For a more precise forecast for your specific location...go to
www.weather.gov/gray

Northern Carroll-Southern Carroll-Sullivan-Merrimack-Belknap-
Strafford-Cheshire-
Including the cities of Jackson, North Conway, Albany, Conway,
Chatham, Crawford Notch, Wakefield, Bridgewater, Brookfield,
Ossipee, Tuftonboro, Wolfeboro, Moultonborough, Claremont,
Cornish, Unity, Croydon, Goshen, Grantham, Lempster, Newport,
Charlestown, Boscawen, Canterbury, Concord, Dunbarton, Loudon,
Hooksett, Laconia, Gilford, Meredith, Barrington, Rochester,
Dover, Rollinsford, Somersworth, Durham, Madbury, Gilsum, Keene,
Marlow, Sullivan, Surry, and Jaffrey

...WINTER STORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 4 PM THIS
AFTERNOON TO 4 AM EDT TUESDAY...

* WHAT...Heavy snow expected. Total snow accumulations of 4 to 7
  inches expected.

* WHERE...Portions of central, northern and southern New
  Hampshire.

* WHEN...From 4 PM this afternoon to 4 AM EDT Tuesday.

* IMPACTS...Slick travel is likely. Deteriorating conditions are
  likely during the commute this evening. The hazardous conditions
  will also impact the Tuesday morning commute. The wet nature of
  the snow could cause limbs to fall, resulting in power outages.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

If you must travel, keep an extra flashlight, food, and water in
your vehicle in case of an emergency.

For a more precise forecast for your specific location...go to
www.weather.gov/gray

Eastern Hillsborough-Interior Rockingham-
Western And Central Hillsborough-
Including the cities of Manchester, Pelham, Nashua, Salem,
Atkinson, Newton, Plaistow, Chester, Derry, Hampstead, Exeter,
Amherst, Milford, Mont Vernon, Goffstown, Peterborough, Sharon,
Hollis, and Weare

...WINTER STORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 4 PM THIS
AFTERNOON TO 4 AM EDT TUESDAY...

* WHAT...Heavy wet snow expected. Total snow accumulations of 3 to
  7 inches expected...with the greatest totals over higher
  elevations.

* WHERE...Western and Central Hillsborough, Interior Rockingham
  and Eastern Hillsborough Counties.

* WHEN...From 4 PM this afternoon to 4 AM EDT Tuesday.

* IMPACTS...Slick travel is likely. Deteriorating conditions are
  likely during the commute this evening. The hazardous conditions
  will also impact the Tuesday morning commute. The wet nature of
  the snow could cause limbs to fall, resulting in power outages.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

If you must travel, keep an extra flashlight, food, and water in
your vehicle in case of an emergency.

For a more precise forecast for your specific location...go to
www.weather.gov/gray..

Southern Somerset-Lincoln-Knox-Coastal Waldo-
Including the cities of Athens, Cornville, Skowhegan, Palmyra,
Pittsfield, Embden, Madison, Whitefield, Dresden, Alna, Bremen,
Bristol, Damariscotta, Newcastle, Boothbay Harbor, Wiscasset,
Waldoboro, Owls Head, Rockland, Appleton, Camden, Hope, Rockport,
Thomaston, Belfast, Northport, Searsmont, and Lincolnville

...WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 7 PM THIS EVENING TO
6 AM EDT TUESDAY...

* WHAT...Snow expected. Total snow accumulations of up to 3 to 6
  inches expected.

* WHERE...Southern Somerset, Lincoln, Knox and Coastal Waldo
  Counties.

* WHEN...From 7 PM this evening to 6 AM EDT Tuesday.

* IMPACTS...Slick travel is likely. The hazardous conditions will
  impact the Tuesday morning commute. The wet nature of the snow
  could cause limbs to fall, resulting in power outages.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

Slow down and use caution while traveling.

For a more precise forecast for your specific location...go to
www.weather.gov/gray..

Southern Franklin-Kennebec-Interior Waldo-Coastal York-
Coastal Cumberland-Sagadahoc-
Including the cities of Farmington, New Sharon, New Vineyard,
Temple, Wilton, Chesterville, Jay, Augusta, Sidney, Windsor,
Vassalboro, Waterville, China, Palermo, Brooks, Jackson, Knox,
Liberty, Montville, Morrill, Waldo, Winterport, Unity, Biddeford,
Saco, Old Orchard Beach, Kittery, Portland, Cape Elizabeth,
South Portland, Westbrook, Yarmouth, Brunswick, Arrowsic, Bath,
Phippsburg, Bowdoinham, Topsham, and Bowdoin

...WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 7 PM THIS
EVENING TO 6 AM EDT TUESDAY...

* WHAT...Snow expected. Total snow accumulations of 2 to 6 inches
  expected...with the greatest amounts away from the immediate
  coast.

* WHERE...Portions of south central, southwest and western Maine.

* WHEN...From 7 PM this evening to 6 AM EDT Tuesday.

* IMPACTS...Slick travel is likely. The hazardous conditions will
  impact the Tuesday morning commute. The wet nature of the snow
  could cause limbs to fall, resulting in power outages.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

Slow down and use caution while traveling.

For a more precise forecast for your specific location...go to
www.weather.gov/gray.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Governor Mills Urges President Trump To Marshal Resources of Federal Government In Support of Maine’s Fishing and Seafood Industries

Citing the “substantial toll” the COVID-19 pandemic is taking on Maine’s independent fishermen, acquaculturists, wholesale dealers, and seafood processors, Governor Janet Mills pressed President Donald Trump to marshal the resources of the federal government to support Maine’s vital fishing and seafood industries.

In a letter to the President, Governor Mills specifically requested that the Trump Administration consider direct financial assistance, subsidies, and operating loans or loan deferment, among other possible measures, “to help our seafood industry survive this unprecedented moment”.

“I am writing today to ask for your immediate assistance in support of Maine’s iconic seafood industry. The COVID-19 pandemic is taking a substantial toll on Maine’s independent fishermen, aquaculturists, wholesale dealers, and seafood processors,” wrote Governor Mills. “The markets for their products are collapsing both globally and locally. The men and women who ply our waters harvesting lobster, groundfish, herring, shellfish, countless other species, and farming aquacultured products are the very backbone of our rural coastal economy.”

Governor Mills noted that Maine’s fishermen are the economic lifeblood of their community, but they are not eligible for unemployment because of their status as independent operators. 

“In the short-term, harvesters have only limited opportunities within their communities to sell small quantities of product in the hopes of earning just enough money to buy weekly groceries,” wrote Governor Mills. “In the long-term, it is clear that the collapse of the international and larger domestic markets will devastate Maine’s commercial fisheries.”

In 2019, Maine’s fishing industry generated a value for harvesters and aquaculture operators of more than $673 million which translates to approximately $2 billion in overall value when accounting for the value added by dealers and processors.

Maine lobster harvesters, who in 2019 generated more than $485 million in landed value, are facing severely reduced prices due to market loss which could total $50 million for the first half of 2020, and more as the loss of markets grows, Governor Mills noted.

She also observed that ground fishermen face the potential loss of leased quota during one of the most lucrative periods of the year, while shellfish aquaculturists and Maine’s softshell clam harvesters, whose 2019 harvest was valued at $18, anticipate revenue losses of least 50 percent.

Maine’s elver fishery, the second most valuable in 2019 at $20 million, is facing market disruptions that Governor Mills explained are projected to reduce the value by 90 percent. The Northern Gulf of Maine scallop fishery will also be impacted by market loss with a projected 50 percent loss in value.

“I hope you can appreciate how reliant our coastal communities are on the revenues these resources produce. It is the lifeblood of our rural coastline, and these individuals have no other options to sustain their way of life,” she wrote.