If you’ve been to the beach lately, you’ve probably noticed new signs as well as some “Community Ambassadors” providing information about staying safe from COVID-19 in Scarborough. These are just a few of the activities that the Town of Scarborough will be undertaking between now and Oct. 31 to promote community education around COVID-19 prevention. These activities are paid for under two grants from the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.

The job of the community ambassadors is to provide friendly reminders about how to stay safe on the beaches — including the three pillars of prevention: washing hands, wearing masks and staying at least six feet apart. They are gently reminding people that the beach has plenty of room to spread out. There is no need to settle right by the entrances. An additional benefit is that the ambassadors are greeting our residents and visitors, making them feel welcome in this challenging time. Along with our ambassadors, we have additional cleaning staff taking on more frequent cleanings at the beach restrooms and at other Town facilities.

We have new signs at the beaches, reminding people to be kind, stay safe and be aware. We are working on new signs that express appreciation for wearing masks. Additional messaging is being developed now. Look for new signage at the main gateways into the community.

We are also working with our businesses. We are launching a new sticker program that let’s people know that Scarborough and our businesses are “Committed to Being Open & Safe.” Our work with businesses also includes having open communication when there are complaints. The state has a portal where people can submit their concerns, if they feel that a business was not following state guidance on COVID-19 prevention. When those situations arise, the state forwards the concerns to the town. We then reach out to the business to make them aware of potential problems as well as potential solutions.

We’d like to take this opportunity to remind businesses that there is a new grant program available from the state of Maine to address impacts from COVID-19. The deadline is tight — applications should be submitted by Sept. 9 for the new Maine Economic Recovery Grants.

The Maine Department of Economic and Community Development reported this week that the application process should take approximately 30 minutes to complete, but you will need to have your documents in order to complete the application. Directions and the application can be found at maine.gov/decd/economic-recovery-grants. All applications must be completed online. You can also contact the Scarborough Economic Development Corporation for more information (SEDCOMaine.com)

Finally, we also want to make sure that residents are aware that the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and various health care organizations have partnered together to open 27 “Swab and Send” COVID-19 testing sites throughout the state. The sites will offer testing free of charge and without a doctor’s order, consistent with the state’s standing order on testing protocols.

Under the standing order issued by DHHS, anyone who is at elevated risk of exposure to COVID-19 may get a test at participating sites, without the need for a test order from their own health care provider. The standing order includes individuals who are known to have been exposed, with or without symptoms. It also includes individuals without symptoms or exposure, but with elevated risk for exposure, including seasonal and migrant agricultural workers, employees of lodging facilities, employees of businesses who have direct, daily contact with members of the public, people arriving from states with a COVID-19 prevalence higher than in Maine, people participating in large gatherings, or other individuals who may be at increased risk of COVID-19 based on duration and density of their recent, potential exposures.

The specimens will be sent to the Maine CDC’s Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory (HETL) for testing and will generally have results back in two days. Testing sites throughout Maine can be found at get-tested-covid19.org. This site lists state sites as well as private sites.

For the free testing using the state labs, please look for the tag “State-Sponsored Site” and “All testing free” tags.

Examples of Swab and Send sites in this area found on the website include Mercy Hospital/Northern Light at 175 Fore River Parkway in Portland, and Westbrook Public Safety department. Appointments are necessary in most cases. A new Swab and Send site launched at the Maine Visitor Information Center in Kittery on Tuesday, Aug. 25 with Promerica Health as the provider.

Keeping our residents, visitors and businesses safe and healthy requires all of us to do our part.

If you have ideas for promoting an open and safe community, please email us at [email protected]

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