Residents in the state of Maine are being asked to mask up indoors after Gov. Janet Mills declared they will follow the latest recommendations from officials at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The new guidance recommends that, regardless of vaccination status, those in areas with substantial COVID-19 transmission wear a mask when indoors.

As the State of Civil Emergency has ended in Maine, this is just a suggestion, not a requirement.

Currently, the only counties that fall into the "substantial transmission" category are York County in southern Maine and Piscataquis County in central Maine. 

 

York County borders New Hampshire to the northeast.

Substantial transmission is defined as at least 50 new cases per 100,000 people during a seven-day period. In some southern and midwestern states, every county has high or substantial transmission.

Due in large part to the spread of the “Delta” variant, much of the country has seen an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases and virus-related hospitalizations.

According to officials, Maine continues to demonstrate nation-leading progress in administering vaccinations and containing the spread of COVID-19. More than 63 percent of Maine’s total population is fully vaccinated and 68 percent has received at least one dose, according to the U.S. CDC vaccination tracker.

77 percent of eligible Maine people (12 years and older) have received at least one dose and nearly 72 percent of eligible Maine people are fully vaccinated, according to officials.

Mills said in a statement that the best way for people to protect themselves is to get vaccinated.

"We continue to strongly urge all people to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their communities by getting your shot. In the meantime, we recommend that Maine people follow the U.S. CDC’s updated public health recommendations,” Mills said.

A copy of the announcement can be found here.

The news of the decision to follow U.S. CDC guidance comes as people start to think about preparing to go back to school.

All teachers, staff and students in K-12 schools are being asked to wear masks as part of the recommendations when they return to the classroom in Maine.

In New Hampshire, local communities are working to come up with their individualized plans to go back to school.

Leaders in Dover have a preliminary plan. Members of the school board will be reviewing it during their August 9 meeting.

The district will follow a five-day week schedule and students will be expected to be in person unless they have a health-related issue.

Students under the age of 12 cannot be vaccinated yet, so district officials will maintain a mask mandate, as well as social distancing protocols in grades Pre-K to 8.

They could eliminate the six-foot social distancing rule in the cafeteria and lift the mask mandate at the high school since all of the students and staff members have had the opportunity to be vaccinated.

Rochester's guidance for their schools can be seen here. It is subject to change before the start of the academic year and was based on COVID-19 data as of May 27.

Masks will be optional in Rochester, but there will be hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette in place. Disposable surface wipes will be available in every classroom, computer lab, multipurpose room, common area and other identified areas with high traffic.

There will also be a daily self-screener for students, staff and visitors.

According to the plan, district officials were hoping to make improvements to the HVAC and ventilation systems using federal funding.

CDC officials have recommendations for helping young children and parents transition back to school. You can find them by clicking here.

Contact Managing News Editor Kimberley Haas at Kimberley.Haas@townsquaremedia.com.

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