BJ’s Wholesale Club in Auburn has put limits on bath tissue that members can purchase. Bath tissue has been in high demand because of the Coronavirus. Sun Journal photo

Despite Maine being one of 12 states and the only New England state without a confirmed case of the new coronavirus, some Mainers are still finding their lives affected by it.

Shelves of certain hand sops and hand sanitizes are almost empty at Walmart in Auburn on Wednesday. Hand sanitizes have been in high demand because of the Coronavirus. Sun Journal photo

The Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention announced Wednesday that 42 coronavirus tests in the state have come back negative, with five test results still pending at the state’s Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory in Augusta.

For Nancy Townsend Johnson of Dixfield, the coronavirus has interfered with her ability to see her husband, who works out of state.

Johnson said her husband, Ralph, works in Washington, D.C. as vice president of informatics and technology for Leapfrog Group, a nonprofit that focuses on hospital safety ratings.

She and her husband “have a place in northern Virginia where he lives for the majority of the time” that he’s in Washingtonm D.C.

“I spend most of my time here in Maine (in the home) we plan to retire in someday,” Johnson continued. “I was supposed to go to D.C. this month for a few weeks to spend time with my husband and enjoy the cherry blossoms and museums.”


Instead, Johnson said they postponed the trip.

“I don’t want to get down there and end up quarantined or sick,” Johnson said. “At this point and for the foreseeable future, I am here, he is there, and I’m just hoping we both stay healthy.”

On the other side of the country, Jefferson Lane, a Durham native attending the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington, as a communications studies major, said his school has canceled in-person classes this week and replaced them with online classes.

“It’s a learning curve for professors and students alike,” Lane said. “It’s not ideal, but it is what it is.”

Washington was the first state to report a death from the coronavirus, and as of Wednesday morning, there are 267 confirmed cases of the virus.

According to the Washington State Department of Health website, Pierce County, where the University of Puget Sound is located, has 14 confirmed cases of the coronavirus.


Lane said that while spring break is around the corner, an air of uncertainty is hanging around campus as students contemplate whether classes may be canceled for the rest of the school year.

“Will I need to pack up my Ford Fiesta and make a beeline across Interstate 80 back to Vacationland, finishing the rest of the semester online,” Lane said, “or will I proceed with a normal school year? I have no idea. It’s important to find the light in the dark though.”

Some Mainers are finding the coronavirus is hitting them in their wallets.

Linda Grandmaison of Greene said she and her husband were set to go to a Boston Bruins game March 24 but had to forfeit the $354 ticket due to concerns about her husband’s health.

“He has respiratory issues and heart issues, so we’re losing this money if I can’t resell it at a much lower price,” Grandmaison said.

The parents of nearly 40 students at Mt. Ararat High School in Topsham also expressed their frustration Wednesday after the school’s administration decided to cancel the Band and Chorus trip to Nashville, Tennessee.


In an e-mail from Principal Donna Brunette to the students in Band and Chorus and their parents Tuesday night, she said the school administration felt it was “best to err on the side of caution,” as the Tennessee trip “would have required our students, staff and other chaperones to travel through two international airports and be in crowds of unknown people.”

She said band Director Benjamin Cox would be chatting with WorldStrides, the travel organization responsible for planning the trip, to discuss the change of plans.

“I don’t know what the outcome of that conversation will be but I hope you understand the risk outweighs a potential financial loss,” Brunette said.

Some parents said Wednesday that they’re worried they’re going to lose the hundreds of dollars they paid for the five-day trip to Tennessee.

“I don’t know if the trip is going to be salvageable,” said one parent, who wished to remain anonymous. “It’s a complete disaster. The CDC has said there’s no danger in traveling domestically. For a Mainer, losing that amount is unimaginable. It’s a lot of money.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Atlanta, Tennessee has seven reported cases of the coronavirus.


Betsy Sawyer-Manter, CEO of SeniorsPlus, said the nonprofit had a contingency plan for its Meals on Wheels program if the coronavirus flares up in Maine.

“For us, it’s not ‘if’ the virus hits our state but ‘when,’ so we have a backup plan in place so our consumers can continue receiving meals,” she said.

Sawyer-Manter said some of the organization’s volunteer drivers have already said they wouldn’t deliver meals because they were worried about the coronavirus.

“We may end up having to start our backup plan a little early if we lose some of those drivers,” Sawyer-Manter said. “We’re also flash-freezing premade meals, and we may end up decreasing the number of times we visit a home but increase the number of meals we bring to consumers.”

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