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Maine CDC Director Suggests State Could Move Away From Federal Mask Guidance That 'Whipsaws People'

Nirav Shah
Robert F. Bukaty
Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, speaks at a news conference Monday, March 16, 2020, in Augusta, Maine.

Maine CDC Director Nirav Shah says his agency is considering whether to continue using the U.S. CDC map to determine which areas in Maine have substantial and high transmission of COVID-19 and where face coverings should be recommended indoors.

Speaking during Maine Calling on Monday, Shah said Maine's low population levels make risk levels fluctuate daily.

"One day, Somerset County is a risk. Piscataquis is, and then it's not. That, I recognize, whipsaws people," he said.

Shah says his agency is researching whether a different approach than the U.S. CDC map would be a better fit for Maine to determine higher-risk areas. Currently, masks are recommended indoors in Waldo and Somerset Counties.

Shah says that the new guidelines have caused some confusion, and he advised those who are vaccinated to consider two things when deciding whether to mask up.

"If you're going to be somewhere crowded, wearing a mask is a good thing. If you're going to be with folks who are themselves at risk of having serious COVID because they're older or younger, wearing a mask is a good thing to keep that risk even lower," he said.