Gov. Janet Mills on Saturday announced she had tested negative for COVID-19 after having been exposed to a member of her security team who was infected with the coronavirus.

Mills received a polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, test on Thursday, said her spokeswoman, Lindsay Crete.

“Masks work!” Mills said in a statement late Saturday afternoon. “And I’m proof.”

Gov. Janet Mills Michael G. Seamans/Staff Photographer

The governor will continue to quarantine until at least Tuesday, which will have been 10 days since her exposure to a member of her Maine State Police security detail who later tested positive for the virus, according to her office. People exposed to the virus have been known to test negative for COVID-19 before eventually developing symptoms and testing positive.

Mills used the occasion Saturday to urge Mainers to take distancing precautions and wear face coverings to slow the spread of the disease, which has begun to surge out of control in the state after months of comparatively low statistics.

“If my Executive Protection Unit member had not been wearing a mask last Saturday while I was in the vehicle with them, I firmly believe I would have contracted the virus,” Mills said in a news release announcing her test result. “We know that wearing face coverings, watching our distance, and washing our hands protect us from the spread of this virus. No matter where you are or who you are with, taking these simple steps protects you and anyone you come into contact with. Even someone who has limited contact with the public, like myself, can inadvertently be exposed to this dangerous virus, through nobody’s fault.”

Case numbers and hospitalizations have been surging across Maine for at least the past month, prompting public officials to implore residents to take precautions. Maine’s seven-day average of new daily cases reached 265.3 on Saturday, the highest yet.

The caseload has recently become large enough for the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention to consider scaling back its contact tracing efforts to focus on vulnerable populations rather than the public at large. Mills herself recently extended a 9 p.m. curfew for restaurants and other businesses in response to the rising numbers.

Mills has been in quarantine since Tuesday, when she learned she had been exposed on Nov. 28 to the member of her security detail, who was beginning to show symptoms. That person later tested positive.

In quarantine, Mills has experienced no symptoms and continued her work online and by phone. She has declined “nearly all in-person meetings” during the pandemic, her office said.

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