The Star-Herald

Do your part and be vigilant

I know we are all tired of hearing about the coronavirus. However, the fact is that this is an extremely dangerous virus with long-term health ramifications. It is, therefore, important that everyone does their part to stay safe and protect themselves as well as those around us so things can get back to normal as soon as possible. 

Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation out there. While it is true that here in Aroostook County, we have not had the large numbers of those infected that other areas have had, we must remain vigilant. 

The Maine Center for Disease Control discusses the following important facts on its website. 

Key points

Some key points to remember: This virus can spread from person to person. It can cause severe disease and death. Currently, the greatest risk for COVID-19 is still travel to an area with ongoing community transmission and/or close contact with a confirmed case. When out of the home or when at work at an essential business, individuals should maintain a minimum distance of six feet from other people. The number of people traveling in private vehicles is limited to people within the immediate household unless transporting for essential activities. 

According to the CDC, quarantine is used to keep someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others. Quarantine helps prevent spread of disease that can occur before a person knows they are sick or if they are infected with the virus without feeling symptoms. People in quarantine should stay home, separate themselves from others, monitor their health, and follow directions from their state or local health department.
Isolation is used to separate people infected with the virus (those who are sick with COVID-19 and those with no symptoms) from people who are not infected. People who are in isolation should stay home until it’s safe for them to be around others. In the home, anyone sick or infected should separate themselves from others by staying in a specific “sick room” or area and using a separate bathroom (if available).

The CDC says it is likely that the virus that causes COVID-19 will continue to circulate, and concerns will persist as long as the virus continues to spread rapidly.

Lodging

On the positive side, Maine is in the midst of a phased reopening plan. Lodging is now open for Maine residents and those who have met the 14-day quarantine requirement is now open. 

The state has also exempted residents of New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, New Jersey and New York from the testing and 14-day quarantine requirement for stays in lodging establishments. 

People who are not residents of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, New Jersey and New York will be asked to sign a Certificate of Compliance at check-in at all Maine lodging, campgrounds, seasonal rentals, overnight camps and other commercial lodging (Airbnb, etc.). The certificate has the signer certify that he or she has received a negative COVID-19 test result, will quarantine in Maine for 14 days, or has already completed the quarantine period in Maine.

Gatherings

As of June 1, gatherings of 50 or fewer are allowed in accordance with the governor’s plan to reopen the Maine economy. 

Face coverings

The governor’s order requires Maine people to wear cloth face coverings in public places where physical distancing is difficult to maintain, as recommended by the U.S. CDC. The order identifies public settings as: 

– Indoor spaces that are accessible to the public such as grocery stores, retail stores, pharmacies and healthcare facilities 

– Outdoor spaces such as playgrounds, busy parking lots, and other areas such as lines for takeout service where the public typically gathers in a smaller area 

– Public transportation such as a taxi, Uber, Lyft, ride-sharing or similar service 

– Ferry, bus, or train 

– Any semi-enclosed transit stop or waiting area 

Under the order, cloth face coverings are not required for children under age 2, a child in a child care setting, or for anyone who has trouble breathing or related medical conditions, or who is otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance. 

Even if you wear a face covering, you should also use other prevention methods.

For the latest up-to-date correct information for Maine, you can visit the Governor’s website or that of Maine’s Center for Disease Control (CDC) at 

https://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/infectious-disease/epi/airborne/coronavirus/index.shtml.

One of the prevailing attitudes is that some people are not wearing face coverings as they are not worried about themselves. Wearing a face covering protects others around you as well, not just you. Please be responsible and wear a face covering when any situation as described above — for your sake and for that of others. 

Kimberly R. Smith is the resource development and public information officer for the city of Presque Isle. She can be reached at 760-2722 or via email at ksmith@presqueisleme.us.

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