In this Sept. 14, 2017, photo, buses await students at a middle school in Maine. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

The state has added Androscoggin County to the list of Maine counties where it’s unsafe for schools to be open full time in person.

Five counties are now designated yellow, with elevated levels of COVID-19 spreading, more than ever before since the Maine Department of Education started issuing school safety ratings this summer. A week ago, four counties were designated yellow.

Franklin, Knox, Somerset and Washington counties continue to be designated yellow, and the state is watching Cumberland, Hancock, Kennebec and York counties closely as those counties see high rates of new cases.

The Maine Department of Education added Androscoggin County to the yellow list Friday as the county saw one of the highest rates of new cases over the past two weeks, with 20.69 new cases for every 10,000 residents, compared with a statewide rate of 14.72. The percentage of coronavirus tests coming back positive in Androscoggin County — 2.4 percent — is also higher than the statewide rate of 2 percent.


Maine has consistently seen record-breaking numbers of new daily cases in recent weeks, along with a positivity rate — the percentage of coronavirus tests coming back positive — that has more than tripled.

Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Nirav Shah said two weeks ago that “forceful and widespread” community transmission is being seen throughout the state.

Somerset County has recorded the highest rate of new cases over the past two weeks, with 29.12 cases per 10,000 people. That’s almost double the state rate of 14.72 cases per 10,000 people in the same time frame.

Androscoggin, Cumberland, Franklin, Knox and Washington counties have also seen rates of new cases well above the statewide rate in that time.