Message from Congresswoman Chellie Pingree

Dear ,

As Maine and our nation face many unknowns in responding to the coronavirus pandemic, I want you to know that my team and I are working tirelessly to support every Mainer during this unprecedented crisis. Please be advised this coronavirus newsletter is longer than most so be sure to scroll through all of the information it contains.

As of this writing, Dr. Nirav Shah, head of the Maine Center for Disease Control, has confirmed 56 cases of coronavirus in Maine. Nationwide, we have more than 10,000 cases confirmed by the U.S. CDC. This is a serious outbreak and we must continue to treat it seriously.

New information is constantly being released. Beloved neighborhood institutions are closing their doors. Many of us are spending time "socially distancing" away from family and friends who keep us grounded during most life's challenging moments. 

In an effort to provide as much information as possible to my constituents, I will be publishing a weekly newsletter with updates from my office and important information for you all. If any of your friends are interested in hearing from my office on our response to coronavirus, have them sign up here. My website will also be updated with the latest resources and Congressional actions on COVID-19, which you can find at pingree.house.gov/coronavirus, as will my Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages.

Protecting the health and economic livelihood of every Mainer is my top priority. There isn’t a person who hasn’t felt the impact of this crisis. We must have the ability to test, diagnose, and care for patients, and we must deliver immediate financial support to those who’ve been economically harmed by these necessary public health precautions that will slow the spread. 

Take care, stay healthy, and contact my office if there is anything I can do to help navigate this unchartered territory.

Best,

Chellie

ImageOn March 19th, Maine’s CDC Director told the public that no matter our age, practicing social distancing is a part of our "civic duty" as we combat COVID-19. Right now, people under 44 make up 20% of coronavirus hospitalizations.


Update from My Office

Although my physical offices in Washington, Portland, and Waterville are closed to the public as of March 16, all of my staff remain available through telework. Our offices are fully accessible by email and phone. 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. 

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.


How Congress and the Federal Government Are Working to Combat COVID-19

I have major concerns about how the Trump Administration initially handled and continues to handle its response to this outbreak. That said, I’m grateful that Congress has worked in a bipartisan manner to deliver two significant funding packages to mitigate the coronavirus outbreak; however, more funding will be needed to deliver urgent financial relief to the workers and small businesses impacted. 

ImageI believe Mainers deserve a coordinated and comprehensive government response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We need a government that prioritizes long term investments in the well-being of everyone it represents. 

We must strengthen our social safety net during these unprecedented times. That includes everything from low-income food assistance and universal health care to full funding for the Centers for Disease Control, which this Administration has tried to cut every single year since Trump's inauguration. We've already passed two phases of Coronavirus response legislation and are in discussions to develop a third bill soon.

PHASE ONE: 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. This legislation is investing billions in state, local, and tribal public health agencies and dedicates $3 billion toward the development of a vaccine. 

PHASE TWO: On March 14, H.R. 6201, The Families First Coronavirus Response Act overwhelmingly passed the US House with bipartisan support. President Trump signed this bill into law on March 18. This coronavirus response legislation will make coronavirus testing free for most patients, secure paid emergency leave, enhance unemployment insurance, strengthen food security initiatives, and increase federal Medicaid funding to states. A summary of H.R. 6201 is here. 

PHASE THREE: House and Senate leaders are working now to draft a new stimulus bill to address the economic ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic. Though negotiations are ongoing, I believe Congress must provide immediate direct assistance to Mainers and Maine small businesses and nonprofits, including free testing and treatment for patients, expanded paid leave policies, and no-interest, no-fee loans through the Small Business Administration, just as a few examples.

Read more on my work to support Maine communities dealing with the fallout of the coronavirus outbreak here.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • Congress passed legislation that authorizes disaster loans for small businesses. What happens now?
    • The Small Business Administration (SBA) is working directly with governors to provide targeted low-interest loans to small businesses impacted by COVID-19. Maine received approval for businesses across the state. 
    • You can apply for a disaster loan here. More information can be found at sba.gov or by calling 1-800-659-2955. 
  • How can students in my town receive meals during school closures?
    • Each district is handling meals differently. Call your school or Superintendent's office to learn more. If you have questions about school food, email feedingkids@usda.gov
  • How can I help mitigate the spread of COVID-19?
    • Practice "social distancing. This 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 people 50 and more, and I encourage you to make smart decisions to help flatten the curve and lessen the impact on our healthcare system.
  • I don't have paid leave through my employer and I need to care for a family member. What should I do?
    • H.R. 6201, the Families First bill signed into law March 18, gives most workers at small and midsized companies and nonprofits two weeks of paid sick leave if they are ill, quarantined or seeking diagnosis or preventive care for coronavirus, or if they are caring for sick family members. 
    • It also gives 12 weeks of paid leave if their child's school or daycare provider is closed due to COVID-19. 
  • Is the IRS tax filing deadline delayed?
    • Yes, Tax Day has been delayed until July 15.
  • I was laid off, where do I find help?
    • Maine Department of Labor Unemployment Compensation: If you have been laid off you may be eligible to file an unemployment claim here.
  • Where do I find information about traveling abroad?
    • The Department of State advises U.S. citizens to reconsider travel abroad at this time due to the global impact of COVID-19. For information, the State Department’s travel website is here
    • If you must travel, we highly recommend enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Can COVID-19 can be transmitted from dogs and cats?
    • To date, there are no reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, and no evidence that pets, including dogs, can spread COVID-19.

Updates from Our Community

Blood Centers across the nation and in Maine are facing shortages. There is an immediate need for blood donation. COVID-19 does not pose any known risk to blood donors. If you are feeling healthy and eligible to donate, call 1-800-RED-CROSS to schedule an appointment or visit RedCrossBlood.org.

USDA has set up three new email addresses to answer questions you might have about food or farming. 

Have kids staying home from school and wondering how to keep them engaged all day? Maine author Chris Van Dusen is reading one of his children's books every day on his Youtube channel.

Want to support local farms while also accessing fresh foods? Maine Cooperative Extension has a map of farms in Maine offering on-farm pickup. Click the map below for more information.

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Some folks across the country are supporting their local small businesses by purchasing gift cards. While we can't physically show up to a restaurant or shop, we can financially support them during these trying times AND treat ourselves or our friends to something nice.

Maine Department of Environmental protection is reminding Mainers to flush only toilet paper, which breaks down in our plumbing. Items like paper towels and tissues clog up sewer systems.

Maine Access Immigrant Network recorded great videos of their members doing hand-washing PSAs in languages other than English:

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