Monday, March 16, 2020

Maine island life in the time of coronavirus

At the moment the coronavirus pandemic "got real" in Maine -- the announcement of the first confirmed case here -- I was on Cheabeague Island with Press Herald colleague and photographer Ben McCanna to see what the view looked like from an island community. Did they feel safer or more vulnerable being separated from the world by a half mile of water? Were there special vulnerabilities they expected, given that day-to-day life for the island's 340 year-around residents is pretty integrated with the mainland, with many people commuting there to work and all 6th to 12th graders to schools.

As you can read in yesterday's Maine Sunday Telegram, Maine islanders have the advantage of always being prepared for a potential crisis and to look out for one another and the island as a whole if one comes; but they're also at the very end of supply chains, so it can be hard to get things -- for the EMTs or the island nursing home -- when the outside world goes haywire. Hope you enjoy.

The evening the story came out, elected officials on a larger and more self-sufficient island -- North Haven in Penobscot Bay -- announced they were banning visits by non-residents and advising residents to avoid non-essential travel to the mainland in an effort to keep the island infection-free, if indeed it actually is.

[Update, 3/18/20: Why do Maine officials only say which counties -- rather than towns -- coronavirus cases are located in? Got you covered in this short Press Herald piece.]

[Update, 4/16/20: A problem with Chebeague's ferry transporting COVID-19 patients has been resolved.]

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