In this July 28, 2021, file photo, a sign outside the Dover-Foxcroft police department urges social distancing. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

The spread of COVID-19 continues to vary widely in different parts of Maine even as overall cases have surged in the past few weeks, with the statewide case rate now higher than any other New England state.

While Maine’s recent case rate is still 15th-lowest nationally, the divergence within the state becomes apparent when comparing county-level infection rates to other U.S. states. Some are lower than any state while others are experiencing higher transmission than most U.S. states, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Among U.S. states, Connecticut has seen the lowest COVID-19 transmission over the past two weeks, with about 17.5 daily cases per 100,000 residents. Seven Maine counties have seen lower case rates than that, a Bangor Daily News analysis of data from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention found. They are led by Lincoln County, which has averaged only 10.8 cases per 100,000 residents.

On the flip side, the two Maine counties with the highest rate of virus spread in recent weeks, Aroostook and Piscataquis, have seen more per capita cases than the majority of U.S. states, with infection levels on par with Ohio and South Dakota.

Penobscot County, which has averaged 41.2 cases per 100,000 residents over the past two weeks, would come in squarely in the middle, with 24 states having a lower case rate during that time period.

Maine counties also vary widely compared with U.S. states on vaccination rates. Somerset County, which has the lowest vaccination rate in Maine with 57.7 percent of eligible people 12 and older fully vaccinated, is similar to Arizona, which ranks 33rd among U.S. states in vaccinations, according to data from the U.S. CDC.

Cumberland County’s vaccination rate, with 84.7 percent of eligible people fully vaccinated, is higher than that of any U.S. state. Only a handful of counties nationwide have higher vaccination rates than Cumberland County, according to U.S. CDC data, including Montgomery County, Maryland, a wealthy area adjacent to Washington, D.C., and Teton County, Wyoming.