County officials working through COVID-19 conditions

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DOVER-FOXCROFT — Despite a lack of recorded cases of the coronavirus in Piscataquis County as of Tuesday morning, county officials are still exercising caution in daily operations with facilities on the East Main St. campus mostly closed to the public and limited staff working on site. Gov. Janet Mills announced stricter limits on public gatherings last month, including banning gatherings of more than 10 people, the Piscataquis County Commissioners met via teleconference for the April 7 meeting.


Piscataquis County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director Tom Capraro said he and Deputy Director Deb Hamlin have alternated who is working in the office and who is on the job remotely.


“The biggest thing we are doing now is processing protective equipment requests for the county,” Capraro said. He said requests are made to the state through the county EMA, as Capraro and Hamlin take care of the paperwork. 


Capraro said priority for personal protective equipment is first given — without exception — to hospitals, then long-term care facilities and followed by police, emergency personnel and other medical facilities.


“We are trying to get a lot of information out every day,” Capraro said, including on food distribution as more residents may be coping with food insecurity now than before the coronavirus pandemic. 


“One other thing we are working on is an alternate care site for Mayo,” Capraro said as Northern Light Mayo Hospital in Dover-Foxcroft would have a nearby location to treat an influx of patients. He said the agency would also be working with Northern Light C.A. Dean Hospital of Greenville for an alternate site in the Moosehead region.


Capraro was asked about why Piscataquis County still had zero cases of the coronavirus. “It can be attributed to a lot of non-testing,” he said, as under current guidelines only those exhibiting symptoms are being tested.


“What we tell everybody is assume everyone has it and use caution that way,” the EMA director said about social distancing practices. Capraro said the possibility exists that some residents had COVID-19 several months ago — such as believing they had a respiratory infection or other ailment — and have since recovered.


Capraro mentioned Will’s Shop ‘n Save in Dover-Foxcroft and Indian Hill Trading Post in Greenville each “should be looked at as a safe place for getting your stuff, they’re doing a great job.”


Shifting to another duty of the agency Capraro said, “The rivers have been doing really well, there is not much on flooding” as the risk is low for the region whereas bodies of water are going over the banks and onto roads and properties in northern Maine.


“We are still doing a lot of business so I think it’s worth keeping open,” Register of Deeds Linda Smith said. “We are doing between 22 and 38 documents a day.”


She said department staff are also taking turns being in the office and working from home.


“Keep up the good work, thank you,” Commissioners Chair James White said.


Piscataquis County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Todd Lyford reported that Michael Pina has been hired to fill a patrol vacancy. 


He said Pina grew up in Monson and is a 2011 Foxcroft Academy graduate. He will join the sheriff’s department after having spent the last four years with the Bangor Police Department and previously working in Livermore Falls.


Pina will start his new position on Monday, April 13.

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