A sign leftover from the year-long school mask mandate still adorns the front entryway of the St. John Valley Technology Center. Credit: Hannah Catlin / St. John Valley Times

Five Maine counties are now seeing high enough coronavirus transmission that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends universal mask-wearing indoors, according to data released by the agency on Tuesday.

Masks are now recommended in Penobscot and Lincoln counties in addition to Somerset, Waldo and York counties, all of which previously were subject to the recommendation at some point in the past week.

The U.S. CDC recommends both vaccinated and unvaccinated people wear masks indoors when the weekly rate of new coronavirus cases exceeds 50 per 100,000 people, at which point they are designated as having “significant” transmission.

Four out of the five Maine counties — all except Waldo — are just over the threshold, a Bangor Daily News analysis of Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention data found, with more than 50 but less than 60 new cases per 100,000 people per week.

Waldo County maintains by far the highest rate of new cases in the state after 29 new cases were reported there Tuesday. The county, with a population a bit under 40,000, has seen 146 new cases per 100,000 people over the past week, making it the only county in Maine to be designated as seeing “high” transmission.

Maine is still seeing less COVID-19 transmission than most states. Nationwide, masking is currently recommended in more than 80 percent of counties, according to the U.S. CDC.