A report in today’s Bangor Daily News examining Paul LePage’s plan–or lack thereof–to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic shed light on the former governor’s anti-science agenda. According to the report, LePage would rescind the highly effective vaccine mandate on health care workers, and believes that for unvaccinated children “what you should do is let them all have it,” despite the fact that, as the BDN notes, “epidemiologists have raised concern that children still spread the virus to vulnerable relatives.”

Drew Gattine, Chair of the Maine Democratic Party, called out LePage’s dangerous and anti-science views in the piece, saying, “The toll that COVID has taken on Maine, like the rest of the country, has been devastating. Under Paul LePage, it would have been much, much worse.”

During LePage’s eight years as Governor, he declared war on scientists and public health officials, “decimating” Maine’s public health system and leaving crucial positions vacant. LePage’s anti-science campaign rhetoric suggests that he would bring more of the same to a second stint as governor, putting the health and safety of Mainers at risk.

Bangor Daily News: Paul LePage sells small-government COVID-19 response as Maine cases rage
By Jessica Piper
December 20, 2021

Key Points:

  • Former Gov. Paul LePage put opposition to Gov. Janet Mills’ COVID-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers at the center of a laissez-faire pandemic agenda, notably saying states should not have worried much about the spread of the virus among children.
  • Vaccination rates increased dramatically after the mandate was announced in August. A small share of workers also quit, drawing ire from Republicans including LePage, who is running to oust the Democratic governor in the 2022 election.
  • Speaking at a Lewiston homeless shelter where he was encouraging donations in his first advertised campaign stop since a September kickoff speech, LePage said Friday he would get rid of the mandate for health care workers on “day one” if elected. He spoke strongly in favor of individuals choosing to get vaccinated, but shied away from state mitigation strategies in favor of a public relations approach and allowing less vulnerable children to contract the virus.
  • “What you should do is let them all have it, get that natural immunity and that’s when you’re going to achieve herd immunity,” LePage said.
  • Republicans were critical of Mills’ capacity limits, travel restrictions and mask mandates, which Mills lifted after vaccines became widely available to adults. The state has among the highest vaccination rates in the U.S., with 83 percent of Mainers having received at least one dose.
  • Democrats have largely praised Mills’ record on the virus, noting Maine’s high vaccination rate and low overall death rate compared with other U.S. states. Maine Democratic Party Chair Drew Gattine said LePage “gutted public health” during his eight years in office, a reference to health jobs left unfilled as part of the former governor’s plan to reduce the state workforce.
  • “The toll that COVID has taken on Maine, like the rest of the country, has been devastating,” Gattine said. “Under Paul LePage, it would have been much, much worse.”
  • Even with the recent surge, only two states — Vermont and Hawaii — have seen lower COVID-19 death rates than Maine, according to a New York Times analysis. If that rate was in line with the national average, roughly 1,860 more Mainers would have died.