To our seasonal neighbors and friends, welcome back to our community. We do not begrudge you an escape from your primary residence to the sanctuary of your vacation home on our beautiful coast. But please, we beg of you, go straight there and do not leave for at least two weeks!
We, the year-round residents of Lincoln County, rely on you as a crucial part of our economy. We will need you more than ever this summer, as our businesses attempt to recover from a disastrous spring and our workers attempt to make up for weeks or months of unemployment.
But right now, we mostly want to be safe and to keep our families safe, and some of you – we’re going to be frank here – are showing a reckless disregard for that safety.
We all have our own stories and hear others from our friends and relatives, of irresponsible behavior by some of you from New York – the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S. – and other states with high numbers of COVID-19 cases.
As you flee to your vacation homes, rather than self-quarantine for two weeks, many of you are going into local grocery stores and other businesses, where you place many of us at risk of infection.
Yes, we know everyone needs groceries. Some you can bring with you. For the rest, you can have someone deliver them.
Main Street Grocery, in Damariscotta, offers delivery to residents under quarantine. Even if you cannot find a store to deliver your groceries, you can hire a local – maybe the same person who cleans your house or mows your lawn. They probably need the work.
You need gas too. Pay at the pump and use gloves if you have them. Stay out of the store.
The brazen entitlement and utter lack of concern for year-round residents by some – certainly not all and probably not the majority – seasonal residents has many of us year-rounders on edge.
The virus has spread slowly here and most of us are doing our part to avoid the kind of disaster playing out in the places where you live most of the year.
Yes, there are some locals who continue to ignore public health guidelines. Shame on them too.
But to whatever extent we can contain the virus, most of us are determined to do so. We are gambling our businesses and livelihoods on our ability to do so.
All those efforts, all those losses, become useless when uncaring visitors bring the virus with them and spread it around.
We have a feeling the problem is not a lack of information, but we are going to share some information with you anyway.
Gov. Janet Mills has recommended that arrivals from areas with outbreaks quarantine at home for two weeks.
The Lincoln County Emergency Management Agency urges everyone – seasonal resident or otherwise – to follow the current guidelines from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention and check daily for updates.
“Seasonal residents come to Lincoln County because they love the communities,” County Administrator Carrie Kipfer said in an email. “They can show that love by making kind choices for those of us who share the space.
“If you are traveling from another location that has experienced an outbreak, self-quarantine for two weeks. If you are sick or have been exposed to someone who is sick, self-quarantine.”
Kipfer reminded us that everyone else should stay home too – and as of Tuesday afternoon, the governor has ordered as much except for essential errands and essential workers.
“Make smart choices when you go out – make a shopping list and only go once a week, by yourself,” Kipfer said. “Pick up your neighbors’ groceries while you are there to limit the number of people in the stores.
“Call your doctor if you are ill; don’t just show up at the emergency room. Postpone the birthday gatherings and book club meetings. Don’t have a dinner party for your friends returning from their winter homes.
“We all have a role in slowing the spread, even those of us who are here year-round.”
Kipfer, who is acting as spokesperson for the county’s emergency operations center, uses a metaphor to illustrate the flawed logic of virus flight.
“Coming to Maine from New York, New Orleans, or another hot spot is like trying to outrun a slow-moving hurricane,” she said. “If you got wet in one state, you’ll get rained on again when you get to Maine.
“The pandemic is everywhere; you might as well stay put and make the best of it. It’s the only way to limit the spread.”