Message from Congresswoman Chellie Pingree

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March 16, 2020

Dear Friend,

As our nation and communities respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, the health and safety of you and your loved ones remains my top priority. Today I am writing to provide you with an update about my efforts to mitigate the spread of this disease and let you know that I will continue to be a resource for you during this period.

As part of the strategy to slow the spread of COVID-19, I am implementing new operating procedures in my Washington, DC and Maine offices. I take pride in the fact that so many Mainers see my office as a resource, and I encourage you to continue to do so. While my offices will be physically closed for the foreseeable future, we will continue to: 

  • Answer correspondence. If you want to share your thoughts, questions, or concerns, the best way to reach me is by emailing me
  • Receive and respond to phone calls. If you need to speak to a member of my team you can call my Washington, DC office at 202-225-6116, my Portland office at 207-774-5019, or my Waterville office at 207-873-5713. 
  • Provide casework assistance. If you need assistance with a federal agency, we may  be able to help. Please call my Portland office at 207-774-5019 or send me an email to let me know if you're facing an issue with a federal agency.
  • Schedule meetings. If you would like to schedule a meeting with me or a staff member you can do so here. Please be aware that as long as these operating procedures are in place, we will be conducting meetings over the phone rather than in person. 

The House Sergeant at Arms has informed us that there will be limited access to the Capitol Building until April 1, 2020. The Capitol Visitors Center and the Capitol will be closed to all tours. The White House, Library of Congress, Bureau of Engraving and Printing, and the FBI have also announced that they will be closed to tours. As such, our office will not be able to offer Capitol tours or coordinate other tours. If you currently have any tours scheduled prior to April 1, please reach out to my office. 

Congress's first response to COVID-19 was to pass a $8.3 billion emergency package. I worked with my colleagues in the House to advance this package, which passed the House and Senate with bipartisan support, and was signed into law by President Trump. This legislation will invest billions in state and local public health agencies and dedicate $3 billion toward the development of a vaccine. 

Last week I held a telephone town hall with Maine CDC Director Nirav Shah, and I am so grateful to the nearly 2,000 Mainers that called in. Those who joined brought up a wide range of concerns about how this pandemic will impact our communities going forward. I share these concerns and was extremely proud to see H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, pass the House with overwhelming bipartisan support on March 13. This bill aims to alleviate the severe impacts of COVID-19 on our personal safety and financial stability. More specifically, H.R. 6201 will make COVID-19 testing free for most patients, secure expanded paid emergency leave, enhance unemployment insurance, increase federal Medicaid funding to states, provide protections for health care workers, and strengthen food security initiatives. I hope to see the Senate and President Trump take action on this important bill soon. 

As my colleagues and I continue to work at the federal level to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic, there are also resources at the state level. In Maine to learn more about COVID-19 and the resources that may be available to you, you can call 211 (or 1-866-811-5695), text your zip code to 898-211, or email info@211maine.org. You can read more here

You can help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 by: 

  • Practicing "social distancing" if you can, which means staying home and keeping your distance from other people, especially those in higher risk groups such as the elderly. The CDC has recommended canceling plans for groups of 50 people and more, and I encourage you to make smart decisions to help flatten the curve.
  • Thoroughly washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, or if that is not an option, using hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoiding touching your face.
  • If you are experiencing symptoms of the novel coronavirus, which include fever, cough, and shortness of breath, contact your medical provider about being tested.

We will continue to provide updates through our Facebook page, twitter, and website. Please know that if my office can be of service in any way, you should not hesitate to reach out. 

Best, Chellie

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