(The Center Square) – Fifty-two Maine residents have tested positive or presumptively positive for COVID-19 as Gov. Janet Mills pressed the federal government for more personal protective equipment for health care workers and coronavirus tests.
Four of the 52 people affected by the virus are hospitalized and one has recovered, said Dr. Nirev Shah of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Mills said Maine received a “limited disbursement” from the Strategic National Stockpile. She sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar for a “steady and reliable supply” of tests.
Mills asked if the federal government will consider age when determining how many tests and supplies are sent to a state since Maine has the oldest median age of any state in the U.S.
“In the setting of a national emergency, states should not have to struggle with equipping front-line providers with PPE given the supplies on hand at the SNS,” Mills said in her letter. “At present, the demand from providers and first responders in our state will soon outstrip our available supply, even with the initial distribution.”
Mills addressed the shortage of hand sanitizers in a standing order that will allow the state’s compounding pharmacies to make their own, Shah said. The pharmacies will be allowed to sell their handmade sanitizer.
Shah said the Maine CDC will focus on those hospitalized with COVID-19, health care workers, first responders, those in live-in congregational settings and special populations such as pregnant women.
The Maine congressional delegation discussed the state’s situation on a conference call with Mills on Thursday. Congress recently passed an $8.3 billion coronavirus package that includes $4.6 million for the Maine CDC.
The Maine CDC will also get $1 million from an $11 million bill passed by lawmakers and signed by Mills. The bill also includes a consumer loan program for eligible residents and the expansion of the state’s unemployment program to workers affected by COVID-19.
Maine small businesses are also eligible for economic injury disaster loans from the Small Business Administration.
“All of us have the same goal and that is to keep Mainers as safe and as health as possible,” said Mills, U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King and U.S. Reps. Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden in a joint statement.