MAINE, USA — For more than a year, Maine has been fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. It's closed businesses, schools, and has taken a major toll on the mental health of Mainers of all ages.
"It's affecting everybody," said Greg Marley, the director of suicide prevention for the Maine chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI Maine).
To examine just how large the impact of the pandemic has been on Maine this past year, NEWS CENTER Maine spoke with teachers, principals, business owners, managers, government officials, mental health advocates, and beyond.
It was March 12, 2020, that things first changed in Maine, as the state had its first confirmed case of COVID-19.
Over the course of the past year, there have been countless changes in policy, protests, and progress made. NEWS CENTER Maine highlighted the key events to take place from March 12, 2020, through March 12, 2021.
The change in Maine schools has also lead to challenges for teachers and students. Amid remote learning, staff in Maine schools have worked to connect with students creatively, but a growing gap among those who have the ability to treat each remote learning day as if it were a traditional school day and those whose family circumstances don't allow for that learning environment consistency.
"That's what's hard. There's that gap, that we have no control over and we're trying, but circumstances are circumstances that vary from family to family and we're all in this pandemic and it's affecting people differently," said Hollis Elementary School first-grade teacher Stacey Steeves.
You can learn more of the challenges faced in Maine school over the course of the pandemic in our conversation with Steeves, and other Maine educators.
The pressures of the pandemic are not just felt in schools, however. Businesses across the state have had to adapt to stay in businesses.
"We usually have 70 home games in a season, and when you lose all 70, that's what all our revenue is based around. So our revenues were down quite significantly," said Portland Sea Dogs president and general manager Geoff Iacuessa.
The Sea Dogs were one of the thousands of businesses that experienced major revenue losses amid the pandemic. NEWS CENTER Maine spoke in-depth with the team's president, and other businesses in Maine about the hurdles they have faced, and how they've adapted to stay in business.
The financial struggles faced by Maine residents and business is immense. However with increasing vaccinations, and a timeline for easing restrictions, many are optimistic the state's economy will recover.
"We're not through it yet. But we're definitely making progress. People are feeling better and those are very vital steps along with the vaccine," said Maine State Chamber of Commerce President Dana Connors.
NEWS CENTER Maine spoke with business leaders about the lasting financial impact of COVID-19, and Maine's path to recovery.
As Maine does inch closer to a time where COVID-19 is behind us, we've also seen countless Mainers reaching out and checking in on each other, as the prevalence of mental health challenges skyrockets.
"It has already significantly continued to break down the stigma of mental health issues," said Marley.
According to Marley, NAMI Maine reports rates of anxiety and depression tripling over the last year. With that, however, has come increased care for our neighbors. Marley says as Maine continues to fight COVID-19, it's important to continue showing kindness.
"The little things make such a difference. And it makes a difference not only in the person you're giving to, but it also makes a huge difference in the individual who's doing the giving," said Marley.