As we enter our second month of adjusting to the coronavirus pandemic, I find I am settling into a degree of regularity. Like many of us, my days are filled with navigating virtual meetings and online trainings, pondering if I should go to the store and balancing all these challenges with assuring that I am taking care of myself, both physically and emotionally. And while it is certainly a new routine, it has been helpful to have one.

I know that for many of us, these challenges are compounded by the ongoing closure of all non-essential businesses. This brings an additional layer of anxiety as we apply for unemployment insurance, navigate childcare and assure we are providing for our families in terms of food and shelter. There are resources, both local to our community and statewide, that can help.

Gov. Janet Mills signed an executive order to help Maine families buy nutritious food and cover the costs of essentials like housing and medications. If you receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits, you may now have access to more or longer benefits. Applications for those benefits have also been streamlined for those that are eligible.

If your workplace was temporarily closed or you are taking an unpaid leave of absence due to the pandemic, you may be eligible for Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits. The best way to apply is online at where you can submit a claim anytime. You can also file over the phone at 1-800-593-7660 between 8 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. To help manage the many claims coming in, the Maine Department of Labor (MDOL) has started a new alphabetical-by-last-name call schedule. MDOL will take calls from people with last names beginning with A-H on Mondays; I-Q on Tuesdays; R-Z on Wednesdays and anyone on Thursdays and Fridays.

Additionally, the federal government passed legislation to assist us. Many Mainers will be receiving stimulus checks in the mail soon. More Mainers will also be eligible for UI thanks to the federal government’s work. They expanded benefits to more people, including those who are self-employed, and increased monthly benefits by $600. MDOL is working to implement those programs. If you are self-employed, keep checking their website for updates and do not apply until that system is in place.

Locally, in Old Orchard Beach, both the OOB Community Food Pantry and the Salvation Army are resources that can help with food insecurity. Both Hannaford Supermarket in Saco and Landry’s Shop-n-Save in OOB offer specified hours for older adults as well as curbside pickup for groceries. Volunteers with OOB Community Friendly Connection are also ready to assist.


Even though schools won’t be in session for the rest of the year, there are many ways to provide educational opportunities for our kids. While it is hard to support our children’s remote learning while juggling work from home and other challenges, we have a great support network of social workers, guidance counselors and nurses in OOB ready to help. is an excellent resource for tips on remote learning and support to navigate through these challenging times

Fear and anxiety about the coronavirus can be overwhelming. It is important to take care of yourself both physically and emotionally during this difficult time. Try to connect with others and reach out for help if you need to. For more information, contact the National Alliance on Mental Illness:

Be sure to stay informed during the COVID pandemic. Remember to get your information from reliable sources like the Maine CDC at, the Town of Old Orchard Beach at and

The strain of this “new normal” has been difficult, and it naturally takes time for us to adjust to change. It is important, now more than ever, to stay connected with each other. I am heartened to see how our community has come together to help one another. Those connections are critical to getting us through this. And we will get through this.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can ever be of any assistance. I can be reached at or 232-1067. I am honored to serve as your state representative.

Rep. Lori K. Gramlich, D-Old Orchard Beach, is a Licensed Master Social Worker and is serving her first term in the Maine House.

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