MAINE, USA — It has been a year unlike any other in Maine. Although state officials had prepared for months to fight the coronavirus, the state truly began to change on March, 12, 2020, when Maine's first presumptive positive case of COVID-19 was announced.
"Our approach is based on science and fact, not on fear," Gov. Janet Mills said one year ago today during the press conference announcing Maine's first case of the coronavirus. "On caution and compassion, and a hope that we as a community, as a state, as a team can limit the impact of COVID-19 on the people of our state."
Three days after Maine's first case was reported, Mills declared a State of Emergency that remains in effect.
It was not until March 27, 2020, that Maine recorded its first COVID-19 related death. As of today, more than 700 people with the virus have died in the Pine Tree State.
Maine's first 'Stay at Home' order was issued by Mills on March 31, 2020. That ruling further established travel restrictions in Maine, kept schools closed, and required Mainers to only leave home for 'essential services.'
During the spring, Maine saw panic buying, with toilet paper and cleaning products flying off the shelves. Protests to the stay-at-home order and business closures also began.
On multiple occasions, Mainers gathered outside of the Maine State House, as well as the Blaine House, calling for an end to pandemic restrictions.
Sunday River Brewing Company notably defied the Governors orders and reopening in early May, later drawing fines from the state.
As Maine moved into summer, reopening began. Stage 1 started at the beginning of May, when some businesses in the Maine counties less impacted by COVID-19 were allowed to reopen.
Reopening continued throughout the summer, and although dine-in service resumed at many Maine establishments, many struggled to stay in business.
Some industries in Maine, however, worked in the fight against the pandemic. Puritan Medical Products in Guilford was commended and visited by then-President Donald Trump after producing millions of coronavirus testing swabs.
Just a few months into the fall, many schools began their effort to reopen, many adopting hybrid learning models with students in the classroom two days a week while learning from home the rest.
On December 15, Mainers were hopeful as the first healthcare workers were vaccinated against COVID-19.
Shortly after, on Jan. 12, 2021, the Maine Center for Disease Control reported an all-time high of 830 new daily COVID-19 cases in Maine.
Since then, the number of new cases has continued to decline, and more and more Mainers are being vaccinated.
Now, one year removed from Maine's introduction to the pandemic, words spoken by Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah in the early days of the pandemic hold true.
"We will, as Governor Mills said, get through this, because of, not despite, but because of our collective efforts," said Shah.