Senator Collins: “To the people of Maine, I would say that this is a time to prepare and to protect, but not to panic.”
Photo 1: Click HERE for a higher resolution photo. Photo 2: Photo credit Sean Stackhouse
Augusta, ME—This morning, U.S. Senator Susan Collins convened a meeting with leaders of Maine’s health care providers who are on the frontlines in fighting the coronavirus pandemic. The briefing included professionals representing nursing homes, hospitals, physicians, and community health centers. The medical experts shared their insight and discussed what resources they need to properly protect Mainers and help slow the spread of COVID-19.
“I appreciated the opportunity to update this group of Maine health care leaders on Congress’ latest actions to respond to the coronavirus and, more important, hear directly from them on what challenges they are facing,” said Senator Collins. “It was a very productive meeting. All of us have the same goal, and that is to keep Mainers as safe and as healthy as possible. To the people of Maine, I would say that this is a time to prepare and to protect, but not to panic.”
During the meeting, the Maine Centers for Disease Control announced that two more individuals in Maine have tested presumptively positive for COVID-19. The attendees spoke about the steps their health care organizations are taking to “flatten the curve” of cases rather than allowing infections to grow exponentially. Senator Collins praised the response of Maine officials to the outbreak, including Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah, whom she met with in February.
The Senate cancelled the state work period that was originally scheduled for next week following Senator Collins’ call for the chamber to remain in session and consider legislation to combat the coronavirus.
Senator Collins, a senior member the Appropriations Committee and a member of the Senate Health Committee, voted to advance a $7.8 billion package to fight the coronavirus, which was signed into law on March 6, 2020. She recently announced that the Maine CDC will receive $4.6 million through this funding.
In February, Senator Collins sent a letter to President Donald Trump, calling on his Administration to bolster its efforts to defend against the public health threat posed by the coronavirus. In addition, Senator Collins led a letter that was signed by 12 members of the Aging Committee urging the Department of Health and Human Services to take action to protect seniors from the virus. In two weeks, Senator Collins will chair an Aging Committee hearing to review prevention and treatment guidelines and examine the impact the coronavirus is having on seniors. She also recently warned of an emerging scam involving criminals telling victims that they must pay hundreds of dollars to be eligible for a coronavirus vaccine, even though a vaccine does not currently exist.
At an appropriations subcommittee hearing Senator Collins chaired this week, she asked Dr. Ben Carson, the Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) about the steps he is taking to protect the populations HUD serves. And at a Senate Health Committee hearing on the coronavirus, Senator Collins asked Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn and a top official at the Centers for Disease Control about what they are doing to mitigate drug shortages and protect residents of nursing homes.
Those attending today’s briefing included:
· Steven Michaud, President, Maine Hospital Association
· Dr. Steven Diaz, Chief Medical Officer, MaineGeneral Health
· Andrew MacLean, CEO, Maine Medical Association
· Dan Morin, Director of Government Relations, Maine Medical Association
· Rick Erb, President & CEO, Maine Health Care Association
· Nadine Grosso, Vice President & Director of Communications, Maine Health Care Association
· Laurie Belden, Executive Director, Home Care & Hospice Alliance of Maine
· Ken Albert, President & CEO, Androscoggin Home Health and Hospice
· Darcy Shargo, CEO, Maine Primary Care Association
· Sarah Morrill, RN, BSN, Quality Improvement Program Manager, Maine Primary Care Association