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Maine Gov. Janet Mills awaits federal stimulus money and urges Mainers to be "patient and courageous," during the coronavirus, COVID-19 shutdown

Maine Governor Janet Mills talks about the unprecedented time to govern and her work to help protect Mainers during the COVID-19, coronavirus pandemic.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. Janet Mills says the state has enough working capital to pay its bills, despite the shock to the economy and reduced tax revenues because of the COVID-19, coronavirus pandemic. She also says the state is anticipating money from the federal government in the two-trillion dollar bailout enacted last week.

But Mills tells NEWS CENTER Maine that she's not sure how many strings will be tied to that money.

"We're being told the Department of Treasury will allocate the money to the state, and it will be to pay expenses related to the COVID-19 virus mitigation efforts, and not to supplant budget items. Which is kind of confusing because honestly, if your revenues are down and your budget is down, those expenses that you ordinarily meet are reduced because of the COVID-19 virus."

Mills adds, "We've been discussing this on calls with governors, and we're all of one mind that the federal government shouldn't be too stingy with those funds." 

Gov. Mills is once again discouraging people from coming to Maine and not quarantining themselves for 14 days.

FULL GOVERNOR JANET MILLS INTERVIEW

But she says she has no intention of using the National Guard to stop vehicles crossing the border with out- of- state license plates to spread that message, as some states have done.

"We have more urgent needs and uses for the National Guard," she says. "We anticipate them being used predominantly to help set up alternative care sites for instance, to help monitor testing sites, even directing traffic at places where there might be quick turnaround testing sites. Things like that."

In response to reports of Mainers harassing drivers with out of state plates, Mills says-- don't jump to conclusions. 

"I heard reports from places like Eastport, where somebody was following a car with out of state plates, and the person stopped and said, 'I'm with the Coast Guard for crying out loud, I have my own personal car, I've been here for a year, I've lived here, my car is allowed to have license plates for my original state.'"

Mills says, "Don't make assumptions about people inside a vehicle just because they have an out-of-state plate. Some of them are rental cars, some of them are nurses and doctors who are working here from out of state. So I don't want people to be biased or make assumptions about people from out of state."

In the Thursday afternoon interview with NEWS CENTER Maine, Gov, Mills urged Mainers to "be patient and courageous" during the COVID-19 crisis.

When asked how Mainers are handling all of the restrictions and lifestyle changes, Mills admitted that it's hard for her to say first-hand, because she's not out on the streets.

"Nobody else is out there either," says Mills, "except you and your cameras. So I'm staying at home pretty much. I live across the street, so I'm lucky."

But she says her office gets gratifying messages every day "about staying safe, and the people are grateful that hopefully they'll be able to save a life."

"We've all got to be patient and courageous in these unprecedented times."

The governor says "Do your part to stay apart. That's our simple message. I'm glad my kids are all grown up, because if they were in the house with me right now I'd probably go stir crazy. But for those with children at home I just say, look, give 'em a hug every day. Don't let them go to bed without telling them that they're loved. It's so important for them to feel secure in these times as much as any time."

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

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