by Dana Connors
Friday marked the one-year anniversary of the first confirmed COVID-19 case in Maine. It feels surreal that we’ve been at this for a whole year. To date, the coronavirus has infected more than 46,000 Mainers and claimed the lives of more than 700 of them, as well as the lives of more than 525,000 Americans.
One year ago last Friday, life was very different, and we mourn that normalcy as well. We are all gravely aware that COVID-19 has also claimed the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands nationwide – restaurants, hotels, arenas, boutiques, manufacturers, family businesses, and unfortunately, so many others. Few have been immune to its impact. Since the early days of the pandemic here, businesses and their employees stepped up in extraordinary ways to face this adversity head on and to aid their communities wherever a need arose. As we continue to write this chapter of our history, it is likely that the past year will be among the biggest challenges of our lifetime.
But, history also reminds us that Mainers are notoriously resilient. In countless, profound ways, the pandemic has both tested and highlighted that resilience. In the months and years to come, Mainers will continue to face challenges and obstacles, mourn lost loved ones, search for employment amidst economic uncertainty, find ways to safely connect with family and friends, and employ creative measures to keep their businesses alive. Simultaneously, as more vaccines make their way into the arms of Mainers, there is an undercurrent of hope spreading quietly throughout our state.
We know the pandemic is not over yet, and there are still hurdles to clear before we’re on the other side of this crisis. We recognize that there is much hard work ahead of us as we navigate reopening and economic recovery. It will require sound and supportive public policy, grounded by the state’s strategic plan. It will require good science and effective health and safety protocols. It will also require compassion and kindness for each other. It will require the tenacity and vigilance for which Mainers are known.
As you take some time to reflect on the past year, please know that we are also looking ahead to the day we can truly say this pandemic has subsided. Until then, rest assured that the Maine State Chamber continues to work hard for businesses of all sizes and sectors across our great state as we mitigate the effects of the pandemic.
It has almost been a whole year since the halls of the Statehouse were bustling with legislative activity. Last March, the legislative process came to a screeching halt for the remainder of the year. Since January, our team has adapted to a new way of participating in the process. Our interactions with legislators and committees are now totally virtual, and the value of those impromptu conversations in the halls of the Statehouse has never been more obvious.
The end of March marks the half-way point in the first regular session. In the remaining months of session, there is much work to do on behalf of Maine’s business community. And yet, as more vaccines make their way into the arms of Mainers, there is an undercurrent of hope. We know the pandemic isn’t over yet, and there are still hills to climb. We are ready!