REGION — “Districts announce school closings due to coronavirus” … “Jay to close Town Office to the public until further notice” … “Franklin Memorial implementing temporary visitor restrictions” … “Farmington police implement safety measures” … “Producers grapple with cancellation of Maine Maple Sunday” …

Those were just a few of the headlines written last week as many residents were thrown into a new way of life.

As the week wore on, businesses reduced their hours or closed altogether. Where practical, employers sent staff home to work. Plans were put in place to feed students as they, and their parents, prepared for at-home learning.

People practiced social distancing, or staying at least 6 feet from others and avoiding crowded spaces such as grocery stores. Large group events and small social experiences were canceled.

By the time Friday rolled around, school districts announced an extended closure until at least April 27. Town meetings were postponed. Libraries closed. Some spring sports would not be taking place.

Even Renys had announced it was closing its doors.

All of this was done in an effort to stop, or at least slow, the spreading of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Coronavirus

The virus, which has affected nearly every country and shut down entire states, was confirmed to have arrived in Maine with the announcement of a single positive test on Thursday, March 12.

A week later, the number of positive tests had risen to 56.

Governor Janet Mills and Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, reiterated Thursday, March 19, the importance of practicing social distancing to mitigate the spread of the virus. They also stressed the importance of finding ways to socially connect through video chats or phone calls.

As of Monday, March 23,  there were 107 positive cases in Maine, including 3 in Androscoggin County. There were no positive test results listed for Franklin County.

There had been over 2,700 negative results reported.

We reached out to readers to see how they are handling new routines and new concerns in these uncertain times.

Liz Smith of Jay is a stay-at-home mom. Her husband, Joshua, is a truck driver.

“We are just trying not to make it a big deal on behalf of the kids. We are waiting on whatever is next,” Liz said.

Julia Smith, 4, and Henry Smith, 7, both of Jay prepare to learn at makeshift desks set up in the family’s living room. Submitted photo

Joshua is a car hauler who is preparing for the inevitable slow down.

“He is seeing hotels close more than half of the rooms,” Liz said.

Her children Henry, 7, and Julia 4, are “holding up great,” she said on Thursday.

“The kids were just as worried when play date and school stopped but are becoming comfortable after teachers and family have reached out and reassured them this is all for safety,” she said.

So, what do you do with two kids suddenly tossed into a brand new schedule away from their classmates and friends?

“We are wearing lots of pajamas,” she said. “We are doing a lot of our Christmas craft kits that have been in the closet waiting for a free moment. We have been trying to take walks to soothe the soul.”

The family is honing video chatting skills and doing what they can to check in on friends and neighbors.

They are even staying connected with handwritten letters sent the old fashioned way.

“We talked about the postal service and wrote letters to our family to track time,” she said.

For Ann Flanders of Farmington, the disruption from the norm is a little more challenging. Her son, Trent, 7, requires weekly occupational and physical therapy sessions.

“He’s recovering from having a cancerous brain tumor back in 2016,” Ann said. “He suffered a traumatic brain injury during surgery and lost all his abilities like walking and talking.”

His therapies were canceled last week because Trent is “not considered extremely high priority,” Ann said.

“They called yesterday and said no therapy services until April 1. That could be extended but depended on how things were going with all the rules regarding the coronavirus,” she said.

Trent doesn’t understand why he can’t visit his therapists and Ann is worried he may regress.

“It’s not a surprise, it’s upsetting when that’s what he is used to in his routine. We’ve explained why he can’t go,” she said. “He tends to regress physically if he goes too long of a period without his services. We do what we can for therapy at home.

“I’m sure stopping services wasn’t an easy decision. It is really the best decision safety-wise for the public.”

Monica Huntoon of Phillips is realizing the importance of the little things in life.

“This made me realize how precious time really is … how fast it’s going … how little we have. It’s teaching me to let the little things go. Worrying doesn’t make it go away, or any easier. Deep breaths and prayer work better than worrying.

“I’m not sure about the future but not afraid. I’m keeping faith that those in charge have a plan and keeping faith in people. I’m learning that change can be a good thing and time is something we can’t buy, trade or sell. We need to treasure it while we have it.

“I am learning more about what’s really important and that being humbled is good for me. I am more thankful for what I have than being bitter about what I don’t.”


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