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Maine recommends everyone return to masking in 2 counties

July 28, 2021 GMT

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Public health authorities in Maine on Wednesday recommended everyone resume mask use in two counties in the state where transmission of coronavirus is elevated.

The guidance from the administration of Democratic Gov. Janet Mills follows new recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that all people wear face coverings in indoor, public settings in areas of high levels of transmission. The guidance applies to everyone regardless of vaccination status.

York County, in far southern Maine, and Piscataquis County, in rural northern Maine, are two counties considered to have substantial levels of coronavirus transmission, Maine officials said. The other 14 counties are the site of moderate transmission, officials said.

Gov. Janet Mills encouraged everyone in the state to get vaccinated for coronavirus and wear face coverings in York and Piscataquis counties. She said the change in policy is a recommendation and not a requirement.

“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 in a statement.

In other pandemic news in Maine:

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THE NUMBERS

The new guidance from Maine officials arrives as cases are rising in the state.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Maine has risen over the past two weeks from 23.43 new cases a day on July 12 to 64.29 new cases a day on Monday. The seven-day rolling average of daily deaths in Maine has risen over the past two weeks from 0.29 deaths a day on July 12 to 2.29 deaths a day Monday.

The AP is using data collected by Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering to measure outbreak caseloads and deaths across the United States.

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday there have been more than 70,000 cases of the virus in the state since the start of the pandemic. There have also been 899 deaths.

More than 63% of the state is fully vaccinated against coronavirus, Mills said.

“The most important thing that has not changed is the role of vaccines in getting us out of this pandemic,” said Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah. “This is a reminder that we’re still in the pandemic.”

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PORTLAND RELIEF MONEY

Maine’s largest city wants input from the public about how to use federal coronavirus relief dollars.

Portland city officials said the city is set to receive about $46.3 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to replace lost revenue and respond to the coronavirus pandemic. Half the money was received in May and the rest could arrive as soon as May 2022.

The City Council wants to review suggestions for the use of the money from the public. Mayor Kate Snyder said the money is “a wonderful opportunity to invest in community needs created by the pandemic, and to consider generational investments in public infrastructure.”

City officials said there are limits to how the money can be used. It’s principally designated for responding to the public health emergency caused by the coronavirus pandemic and its associated economic harms.

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Follow AP’s coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic.