The Maine CDC is now recommending that Mainers in two at-risk counties resume wearing masks in indoor settings.

Governor Janet Mills on Tuesday directed the Maine CDC and DHHS to review its mask policies, after updated recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggested a return to face coverings in areas with "high" or "substantial" levels of transmission. The Delta variant is spreading quickly across the country, prompting the new recommendations. In Maine, total cases of COVID-19 have been growing rapidly, in recent weeks.

Now, on Wednesday, the Maine CDC said residents in highly affected counties should start wearing masks in indoor settings, even if they're fully vaccinated. Currently, those areas are York and Piscataquis counties. The new mask recommendations extend to vaccinated, as well as non-vaccinated, residents. The new recommendations could expand if the numbers of infected residents rise in other counties.

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Dr. Nirav Shah, the director of Maine's CDC, took to Twitter to give recommendations about the new ruling. He started out by reminding residents that getting vaccinated is still the best tool we have against COVID-19, and encouraged anyone who is not yet vaccinated to do so. Then, he addressed the Delta variant, which he says is much more contagious than other strains. Vaccinated people can get the Delta variant, but will likely be much less affected by it than someone who is not vaccinated. He says the spread of the virus is much greater in areas with a low percentage of vaccinated residents.

He offered four recommendations:

  • If you're not vaccinated, get it done.
  • If you're not feeling well, get tested.
  • If you're in an indoor space, consider masking up, especially if you live in York or Piscataquis counties.
  • If you're in school, wear a mask. This applies to teachers, staff, students, parents, visitors, and anyone who will be spending any time in a school setting.

Governor Janet Mills dropped the mask requirement statewide in May, for all Mainers, with a recommendation that non-vaccinated residents continue to wear their masks in indoor settings. Case counts dropped significantly in the spring and summer, as more and more Mainers got vaccinated. But, with the introduction of the highly contagious Delta variant, the numbers are going back up.

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