As of Monday, March 23, the State of Maine had 107 residents diagnosed with the novel coronavirus. Of those 107 diagnoses, 12 have been hospitalized. This is an increase by eight, up from the five hospitalized in the second week of march. The virus has been detected in nine counties, but the Maine CDC Director, Nirav Shah, asked residents to live as though COVID-19 was already in their communities. The severe lack of available tests has limited local officials’ ability to fully understand the virus’s penetration through the state.  

What the Coronavirus Means for Maine Healthcare Workers 

Health care workers around the country are bracing for impact as hospitals flood with COVID-19 patients requiring medical attention. No state will feel this overburden as much as Maine, which already has a severe lack of health care professionals. While the virus may not spread through Maine as quickly and easily as in more densely populated urban areas, we anticipate that our state’s health care workers will become quickly overburdened by COVID-19 patients.  

How You Can Help 

Our readers who are not currently working in the health care field can take steps to alleviate some of the burden currently placed on Maine workers. Social distancing, or maintaining at least a 6-foot distance between yourself and those around you, is an important method for stopping virus transmission. And, while Maine has not yet issued a shelter-in-place order, residents should remain at home as much as possible, only leaving for essential tasks, like getting groceries or going to essential jobs.  

Additionally, several states have asked recently retired doctors and nurses to return to work temporarily. The additional help from recently retired folks could significantly help Mainers, who are already suffering from a critical lack of health care workers. If you’re a recently retired doctor, nurse, or other type of health care worker, contact your former place of work for more information about how to help current staff.  

Finally, any Mainers with research experience should look into the Greater Boston Consortium on Pathogen Readiness, or GBCPR. This is a multi-institutional initiative to invest in and develop the infrastructure millions will need to address the threat posed by the novel coronavirus. Scientists, especially those with experience running PCR gels, can volunteer their skills to those requiring the support. If an institution near you requests help, you may be called to lend your time and experience in developing potential treatments and/or running tests.