Transcript for How 1 state successfully kept COVID-19 at bay
We return to the coronavirus crisis as new cases surge Maine has managed to keep cases relatively low and still has the lowest positivity rate in the nation. This despite having the oldest population in the country. Stephanie Ramos is in Portland where she's going to tell us how they're doing it. Good morning, Stephanie. Reporter: Robin, good morning. A civil state of emergency was declared here in Maine in March within three days of the first recorded covid case and it's still in effect as the number of covid cases holds steady. While much of the country is still seeing a surge in covid-19 cases, Maine, which has the country's oldest population, has the lowest covid infection rates. The state's covid-19 test positivity rate averaging roughly 1.21% is the lowest in the nation. In comparison equally rural North Dakota has a rate more than ten times higher with roughly 60 of the population of Maine and a younger population with an average age of 35. We saw covid-19 coming from the end of December, early January when the global health experts began to warn of what was happening. We had a plan. Reporter: Governor Janet mills mandating face coverings in public spaces and issued stay-at-home orders in apr people listened. Schools in Maine have so far managed to keep their infection numbers in check. In Portland, the state's largest school district, schools are using a combination of in-person and remote online learning. Of the 5700 kids rotating into classes two days a week, the school district has had one covid case. The infection happened outside of school and we did not have any close contacts that tested positive. Reporter: As far as the economy, Maine's tourism industry is down, especially in towns heavily dependent on Canadian tourists, Maine's hotel, bars and restaurants are expected to lose more than a billion dollars in revenue this year. Robin. All right. Stephanie, thank you. Joining us live is a man behind Maine's covid response Dr. Nirav shah, the director of the Maine center for disease control. Thank you so much, Dr. Shah, for being with us. We heard in Stephanie's report how well your state is doing. Please tell us what have been the keys to that, doing that so well? Well, good morning, robin. Thank you so much for having me on. I am so delighted and proud to talk about the work that my colleagues across the state of Maine have done and that Maine people have done. I think the keys to some of the favorable positions that we find ourselves in are a few. The first is that science means something in Maine. When we at the state level advised and asked people to follow best scientific principles like wearing a mask and staying six feet people across the state did . Science really does mean something here. The second is that our early preparation put us in a good and favorable footing to handle the surge of cases later. Before our first case in Maine, we had already started distributing ppe to health care providers. We had already started working with the health care community to prepare for the onset of cases and we built a sigcacant and massive testing architecture that allowed us to keep that positivity rate at what you noted is right now one of the lowest in the country. One of the things that we know in public health is that what is predictable ispreventible. We knew what was coming and we made sure that we were ready for it. Household transition -- transmission is of great concern, I know, there inaine and all across the country as well and with the holidays approaching and families gathering, what is your advice? Robin, you know, this is such a bewildering time for everybody and as we go into the colder months, we know even in Maine let alone in other states that much more transmission is occurring in places that were previously seen as safe havens. Our kitchen table, our living room, our workplace, our houses of worship are now places where there are risks of transmission. What we recommend T folks as we go into the holiday season, as go into the colder months is to take the same steps you would have taken at restaurant or bar, to make sure that you're wearing a mask, to make sure that you know who you're inviting over to your place, to make sure that even when indoors you maintain fission distance. As we go into the holiday, those are concrete things that everyone can do to prevent covid-19 from becoming the uninvited guest at every one of your holiday gatherings. Well put. Dr. Shah, thank you so much for being with us this morning and all the best to you. Continued success there in Maine with how you're dealing with covid-19. Thank you. Thank you so much.
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