Maine legislative leaders express concern about financial impact of coronavirus outbreak

Maine legislative leaders are talking about the state’s actions as the coronavirus outbreak hit the state and their concerns about the financial impact.Five days after the first positive case in Maine, lawmakers approved emergency legislation to respond to the virus, including $1 million for the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, setting aside $11 million for unforeseen needs and raising reimbursement rates for home health care aides.“We need to make sure that people are able to be paid for this work and that they’re able to take care of people in their homes during this time,” Democratic House Speaker Sara Gideon said.“We knew that was going to be a crucial to how we keep people in the state of Maine safe,” Republican Senate assistant leader Jeff Timberlake said.Timberlake and Gideon also pointed to the Legislature’s $15 million for broadband to boost remote education and doctor consultations down the road.“There are kids today in Maine who are not able to access the online learning,” Gideon said.The economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak is evident in Freeport where Gideon lives.Iconic retailer L.L. Bean is closed until further notice, along with several dozen outlet stores that employ thousands of people.“I’ve had calls from people who have said, ‘I am a sole proprietor of my business, which is childcare and housekeeping, and on day one, people started telling me don’t come anymore,’” Gideon said.Timberland is also concerned about the longterm impact on the economy. “My biggest fear is this lasts about six months,” Timberlake said.Timberlake said, so far, he has not had to lay off any of the 30 employees working for him this time of year at his apple orchard and his hardware store.“Our tourist industry, the coast of Maine, it’s gonna be devastated if this goes, goes way too far. There’s going to be a lot of people that don’t recover,” Timberlake said.Timberlake said he is hopeful that everyone is able to get back to work when the outbreak is over.

Maine legislative leaders are talking about the state’s actions as the coronavirus outbreak hit the state and their concerns about the financial impact.

Five days after the first positive case in Maine, lawmakers approved emergency legislation to respond to the virus, including $1 million for the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, setting aside $11 million for unforeseen needs and raising reimbursement rates for home health care aides.

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“We need to make sure that people are able to be paid for this work and that they’re able to take care of people in their homes during this time,” Democratic House Speaker Sara Gideon said.

“We knew that was going to be a crucial to how we keep people in the state of Maine safe,” Republican Senate assistant leader Jeff Timberlake said.

Timberlake and Gideon also pointed to the Legislature’s $15 million for broadband to boost remote education and doctor consultations down the road.

“There are kids today in Maine who are not able to access the online learning,” Gideon said.

The economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak is evident in Freeport where Gideon lives.

Iconic retailer L.L. Bean is closed until further notice, along with several dozen outlet stores that employ thousands of people.

“I’ve had calls from people who have said, ‘I am a sole proprietor of my business, which is childcare and housekeeping, and on day one, people started telling me don’t come anymore,’” Gideon said.

Timberland is also concerned about the longterm impact on the economy.

“My biggest fear is this lasts about six months,” Timberlake said.

Timberlake said, so far, he has not had to lay off any of the 30 employees working for him this time of year at his apple orchard and his hardware store.

“Our tourist industry, the coast of Maine, it’s gonna be devastated if this goes, goes way too far. There’s going to be a lot of people that don’t recover,” Timberlake said.

Timberlake said he is hopeful that everyone is able to get back to work when the outbreak is over.