AUGUSTA — Gov. Janet Mills announced July 28 that Maine will follow U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations that people wear face coverings indoors in public settings in counties with high transmission rates, regardless of vaccination status. 

At the time of the governor’s announcement, York and Piscataquis counties had “substantial” levels of community transmission. Within hours of the state’s announcement Wednesday, the federal CDC updated its data, showing Waldo County as the only area in the state with substantial transmission. 

All of Maine’s other counties currently have “moderate” levels of community transmission and are not subject to the new recommendations. But that could change. According to the U.S. CDC website, the data is updated daily at 8 p.m.

Additionally, Mills said the state recommends teachers, staff, and students in public K-12 schools wear face coverings whether they are vaccinated or not, also in accordance with federal guidelines.

The U.S. CDC determines the level of community transmission based on the number of cases per 100,000 people in the last seven days and the percentage of tests in the last seven days with a positive result. 

Mills wrote in her announcement, “As a result of their willingness to roll up their sleeves, 72 percent of eligible Maine people have been fully vaccinated — one of the best rates in the country. This has helped us keep our rates of COVID low compared to the rest of the nation, but the Delta variant remains a threat that we want to keep at bay as much as possible.

“The most effective way to do that 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.”

Federal health officials also recommend fully vaccinated people who have been exposed to someone with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 get tested three to five days after exposure, and wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result.

According to the state’s announcement, because the governor’s State of Civil Emergency has expired, the changes announced are recommendations rather than requirements.

Statewide, Maine CDC is reporting 596 breakthrough cases where people have contracted the virus after being fully vaccinated. The Maine CDC prefaces this data by saying the total is likely an undercount of the truenumber of  breakthrough cases, as not all cases are investigated. The total number of COVID-19 cases in Maine now stands at 70,261.

Vaccines remain widely available across the state. To find a vaccination location, go to maine.gov/covid19/vaccines/vaccination-sites or call the Community Vaccination Line at 888-445-4111.