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UPDATE: Four Maine counties categorized 'yellow' in latest school designations

Knox, Franklin, Somerset, and Washington are designated yellow, all other counties are designated green. However, Waldo and Kennebec are being closely monitored.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Department of Education (DOE) on Friday released its updated color-coded classifications for Maine counties, which shows the relative risk of COVID-19 transmission. Somerset County and Washington County remain "yellow" while Franklin County and Somerset County have been reclassified from "green" to "yellow" in Friday's update.

All other counties remain "green," however the Maine DOE said Waldo County and Kennebec County are being closely monitored.

Waldo County has experienced a drop in new cases recently. However, because its positivity rate remains relatively high, it will be closely monitored. Additionally, Kennebec County has experienced a number of outbreaks in the last week, including at a gym, church, and hospital.

The color designations are based on an assessment of data and trends by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC).

New case rates in both Somerset and Washington counties continue to climb. These counties’ 14-day positivity rates are 4.7 percent and 3.3 percent, respectively.

RELATED: 184 additional cases Friday mark 4th straight day Maine has set a new single-day coronavirus case record

Both Knox County’s and Franklin County’s new case rates have increased over the past week and their positivity rates are above the state average.

While Cumberland County has a high rate of new cases, this includes the outbreak at Maine Correctional Center which will have little impact on schools. Cumberland’s positivity rate is below the state average, and, as such, remains green at this time, according to the Maine DOE.

“Keeping schools open and serving as many students as possible each day is a fundamental goal for the wellbeing of our state. Students, school staff, and school leaders have been diligently implementing the health and safety guidelines, thereby keeping school transmission low,” said Pender Makin, Commissioner of Education. “Because the color-coded risk designations are based on public health measures and trends throughout each community, we are urging the people of Maine to support your local schools by wearing face coverings, maintaining physical distance from one another, and staying home when you’re not feeling well.”

RELATED: Gov. Mills: Face coverings must now be worn in public settings regardless of physical distance

A "yellow" designation indicates a moderate level of community risk. With the designation, the Maine DOE asks schools to consider additional precautions, such as limiting numbers of people in school buildings at the same time, suspending all extracurricular or co-curricular activities including competitions between schools, limiting interaction through cohorting, or other measures based on the unique needs of each school community.

The color-coded system was implemented at the end of July to help give schools guidance on how to safely restart school amid the pandemic. All 16 counties got the initial go-ahead from the State, all receiving a "green" designation, though many districts opted for a hybrid model. 

Here's how the classifications work:

  • Green: relatively low risk of COVID-19 spread. Schools can consider in-person instruction with required health and safety measures.
  • Yellow: elevated risk of COVID-19 spread. Schools should consider hybrid instructional models to try to limit the number of people in classrooms at the same time.
  • Red: high risk of COVID-19 spread. In-person instruction is not advised.

The DOE said these designations are made out of an abundance of caution and for the consideration of school administrative units in their decisions to deliver instruction.

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