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This is Governor John Baldacci.

This week, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that cases of H1N1 flu, or the swine flu, have appeared in Maine.

Last week, when information on the possible spread of a new flu became known, the Maine CDC began an aggressive response plan.

We immediately increased our ability to identify and track the illness, and began preparing action.

Dr. Dora Mills, the head of Maine CDC, created a flu response team that immediately began working on the issue.

But preparation for a potential flu outbreak began years ago.

The plans that have been in place have been activated, and they are working.

The people who have the flu are at home and are recovering. They are not hospitalized.

As time elapses, it’s probable that Maine will see more cases of this type of flu.

I know that people are worried.

They’re concerned about their families, their children and their neighbors.

But it’s important to remember that everyone can make a real difference in helping to slow the spread of this flu.

It’s critical that people follow a few basic steps: washing your hands frequently; covering your mouth and nose when you cough; and staying home if you are sick. Do your best to avoid contact with others.

And stay informed.

Visit www.mainepublichealth.org for more information, or call 1-888-257-0990. That’s 1-888-257-0990. Resources are also available through 2-1-1.

Maine is thousands of miles away from where this flu strain originated, but nobody is immune.

Like other states, we have had to close an elementary school and a day care in York County. And if the circumstances warrant it, we are prepared to do the same in other areas.

And there is no vaccine for this strain of the flu.

Anti-viral drugs can slow the spread of the disease and ease symptoms. We have a supply of those drugs available in our State, and we will receive additional doses from the national stockpile by Sunday.

The anti-viral drugs are available by prescription only, through your doctor. If you don’t have health insurance or a health care provider, please visit www.mainepublichealth.org for a list of available medical providers.

We know that this strain of the flu has the potential to spread quickly, can be dangerous, and very unpredictable.

But, rest assured, we are prepared.

Just as we were dealing with the difficult news from the swine flu, we have also had to deal with the reality of a global economic crisis that has impacted Maine and the entire country.

On Friday, along with members of my Administration, I released my plan to close a $569 million dollar budget gap for the remainder of this fiscal year, as well as fiscal years 2010-2011. The gap was created by declining revenues as a result of worsening economic conditions here and around the world.

This budget gap will further reduce the budget I presented earlier this year, which was reduced by $200 million dollars. That was the first time in at least 35 years that a proposed budget was smaller than its predecessor.

Difficult decisions had to be made. Difficult decisions remain.

Reductions will affect all areas of State government. For example:

-- New State employees are going to see increased health insurance cost sharing; -- Planned merit increases are being eliminated for the next two years; and -- There will be 12 unpaid government shutdown days per year in 2010 and 2011; and -- We will see the creation of an independent Commission to Recommend Streamlining of State Programs and Services.

The plan also reduces funding for the Department of Health and Human Services, the Circuit Breaker Program, K-12 and higher education, Municipal Revenue Sharing and other programs and services.

We will all be asked to share in this sacrifice.

I believe this plan is reasonable, responsible and fair, and we will continue to protect and grow our economy while protecting our most vulnerable citizens.

While this week has brought us bad news and difficult situations, we will get through it by working together, helping each other, offering support to our friends and neighbors, and looking out for each other.

While nothing could prevent the H1N1 flu and the global economic recession, we have been prepared for both and we are going to continue to work for the best interest and safety of our fellow Mainers.

Thank you.

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