An Ellsworth physician assistant who attended Sunday’s rally with President Donald Trump is self-quarantining for 14 days after posing unmasked for pictures with both of the Republican Party’s congressional candidates in Maine, as well as former U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin and White House Chief of State Mark Meadows.

A photograph posted on Instagram shows Michelle Kaplan posing with congressional candidates Dale Crafts seated; Jay Allen; and former U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin in a red jacket.

Michelle Kaplan, a Republican state House candidate in Ellsworth, told The Quietside Journal she is “voluntarily self-quarantining” for two weeks “out of an abundance of caution.”

There is no indication that Meadows, Crafts, Allen or Poliquin are doing the same. Each of them has often been at public events with many others who are not wearing face coverings.

The host for the president’s rally, Treworgy Family Orchards in Levant, issued a statement Tuesday expressing dismay that the event grew so large and failed to follow state rules for social distancing and wearing masks.

Kaplan posted one photograph on Instagram of herself with 1st District congressional hopeful Jay Allen, 2nd District candidate Dale Crafts and Poliquin at the rally, within close proximity to each other, none of them wearing a mask.

Kaplan, who could not be reached Tuesday, thanked the “very nice Secret Service agent” who took the snapshot for her.

The Mount Desert Island publication that broke the story showed another photo of her posing with Allen, Crafts and Meadows.

Maine rules require people to wear face coverings in public places when physical distancing is difficult to maintain, which was the case at the Trump rally at the orchard near Bangor.

The Maine Republican Party estimated that 3,000 people showed up for Trump’s half-hour, last-minute event, with few wearing masks and little social distancing on display. Others said the crowd was smaller than the GOP claimed.

Neither Trump, who came down with COVID-19 this month, nor most of his staff wore masks.

The orchard posted a message on its website that it shares “the concerns of many over the size of the gathering, lack of social distancing and mask wearing during the event.”

“We were told this would be a small, unpublicized, surprise, private, photo op, which gave us no cause for alarm,” it said, and “given that information, we accepted the visit, just as we would for any president.”

“We were sworn to secrecy and told that to prevent crowds we could not tell anyone and avoid answering questions from the media. Upon acceptance, the farm was essentially handed over to Secret Service and White House staff for security sweeps and staging the visit,” the orchard said.

“We expected the president to show up unannounced, surprise the few people who happened to be here, and leave with some nice photos of him holding a pumpkin,” it said.

“We were not aware that this visit would be open to the public without our ability to enforce our policies” of strict adherence to state rules, the orchard said.

“All enforcement of the farm was handled by the Secret Service and by the time crowds began to gather, our staff was not able to move freely,” it said. “Not only were we surprised, but the Secret Service and White House personnel were shocked at the number of people arriving as well.”

Kaplan told The Quietside Journal she planned to use her quarantine time “to catch up on some household projects, perhaps produce a painting or two, and make some . . . goodies.”

“If I display any symptoms whatsoever I will be sure to get tested,” she added.

Kaplan is seeking to unseat Democrat Nicole Grohoski in the 132nd District in Tuesday’s election.


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