AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine CDC reported a total of nearly 800 cases of the COVID-19 virus on Thursday, with 330 of those now recovered. The agency also reported more concern about cases in long term care facilities, the latest in Falmouth.
“This is a facility called Falmouth by the Sea,” said Dr. Nirav Shah, “and we were made aware of three residents and one staff member who have tested positive for COVID-19.”
Dr. Shah said the CDC will test all patients and staff at Falmouth by the Sea, as they have at The Cedars in Portland, which just announced cases ion Wednesday. Those results, he said, are expected to arrive by Friday morning.
But the health crisis is also an economic crisis, because so many Mainers have lost jobs or incomes, and Gov. Janet Mills took steps Thursday to help some of those people keep their homes, by ordering prohibitions on evictions and help for homeowners with mortgages.
The Governor said the Executive Order basically eliminates evictions for the time being, both residential and commercial evictions.
It also prohibits landlords from shutting off electricity or water to apartments or houses where the tenants are behind on their rent and includes a rental assistance program administered by Maine State Housing Authority.
Mills also said she has sent a letter to all Maine banks and credit unions, urging them to help homeowners who are in trouble on their mortgage payments because they’ve lost jobs or otherwise in financial trouble from COVID-19.
“Credit unions and banks are a vital part of our economy," said the governor, “Now I am asking them to step up and do all they can to help Maine people in their time of need.”
The governor said those steps are temporary in effect while the current crisis is overwhelming so many, and the civil emergency is still in effect. Rent assistance and a ban on evictions will end at some point after the current restrictions have been lifted.
Gov. Mills also spoke about concerns that people who are self-employed, such as independent designers, fishermen, carpenters, and hair stylists, still have not received unemployment benefits. Mills said Maine is still waiting for guidance from the federal government on how those benefits will be handled, but she said the payments will be retroactive to the start of the CARES relief program.
At NEWS CENTER Maine, we're focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: /coronavirus