Gov. Janet Mills tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday and said she will monitor her symptoms and isolate for at least five days, consistent with Maine and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

The 74-year-old governor said in an announcement Thursday afternoon that she had taken a BinaxNOW rapid test after developing a mild scratchy throat. She said she has no other symptoms and feels well.

Mills said she is fully vaccinated and has received two boosters, with the second administered on April 8.

“This is a good reminder that even though we may want to be done with COVID, it’s not necessarily done with us,” Mills said.

The governor, who has been a staunch supporter of COVID vaccines, put in a vaccine plug for those Mainers who have not been vaccinated or have been contemplating a booster dose.

“I’m grateful for the strong protection that the vaccine has provided me, which I believe is one of the reasons why I am still feeling well,” Mills said. “I’ll be spending the next few days working remotely, monitoring my symptoms, and fully recovering. I look forward to getting back out when I can and enjoying all that a beautiful Maine spring has to offer. I hope that all eligible Maine people will get vaccinated if they haven’t already, and get a booster dose as well, so as to stay as safe and healthy as possible.”

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Mills said she has been prescribed Paxlovid, an oral antiviral medicine shown to minimize severe COVID-19 symptoms. Just this week, President Biden announced that he will make Paxlovid, a highly effective COVID drug, available to more pharmacies. The drug reduces the risk of hospitalization by 90 percent, but the rollout of the medication has been slow since the FDA authorized it for use in December.

The antiviral pills are regarded as a key component of the Biden administration’s strategy for helping Americans live with the virus. The federal government purchased 20 million doses of the drug from Pfizer.

The governor is tested for COVID frequently, and her last negative test result was Tuesday afternoon. She said she has notified all of her close contacts.

It was not clear from the governor’s announcement how she might have contracted the virus, but Mills has made several recent public appearances to sign bills into law.

On Wednesday, Mills was surrounded by state legislators when she signed a couple of bills aimed at helping Maine’s housing shortage.

On Thursday the governor traveled to South Portland to meet with students at Southern Maine Community College’s Spring Fest Barbecue. She visited the college to promote two years of free community college for pandemic impacted students, a benefit funded in Mills’ supplemental budget. Mills wore a mask during her visit.

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A spokesperson for the governor’s office did not respond to a question about how the governor being in isolation for at least five days will affect her upcoming work schedule.

Several prominent Maine politicians have tested positive for COVID-19 in recent months. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, tested positive for the virus on April 7 and experienced mild symptoms. Rep. Jared Golden, D-2nd District, said in March that he had tested positive, and independent Sen. Angus King tested positive in August 2021. All three were fully vaccinated and boosted when they contracted COVID.

Maine Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, and Senate Majority Leader Eloise Vitelli, D-Arrowsic, said in September 2021 that they had tested positive for the virus. Maine House Speaker Ryan Fecteau, D-Biddeford, tested positive for COVID in late October 2021.

 

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