Sen. Collins "not satisfied" with federal coronavirus response, urges Mainers to prepare but not panic

Published: Mar. 13, 2020 at 6:32 PM EDT
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As coronavirus reaches our state, U.S. Senator Susan Collins, R-Maine, met Friday morning in Augusta with leaders of Maine health organizations.

Collins expressed her dissatisfaction with how the federal government was handling the response to coronavirus.

She said that she feels the messaging has been inconsistent.

"We are making progress at the federal level, but I am not satisfied with the response," said Collins. "I think that the messaging at the federal level has been inconsistent, and when you're dealing with a novel virus like this it's very important that health professionals be out front and that there be a consistent message."

Collins suggested that President Trump even appoint a health care professional to be the face of federal response.

During this morning's meeting, she says they talked about what the federal government was doing to help Maine and what health care professionals are doing here on the ground.

Collins says she's likes the response she's seen so far from the Maine CDC and local health care providers.

"To the people of Maine, I would say that this is a time to prepare and to protect, but not to panic," said Collins. "I am impressed with the steps that the Maine CDC is taking."

Health care leaders talked after the meeting about how they are progressing.

"As this is taken off in other places in the world, staffing -- who's going to care for patients if we get sick -- and some of the personal protective equipment if we don't do a good job in doing public health and you've heard the phrase flattening the curve, making the spike not so high, we could run out of materials," said Steve Diaz, Chief Medical Officer of MaineGeneral Health. "And not in a scary way, but we are concerned about that. On the other hand, we are very well prepared that we do have our staff trained."

Collins also noted that she wants to make all testing free, and we learned Friday afternoon that Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, is pushing for that as well.