Maine Medical Center, the state's largest hospital and a facility in the MaineHealth system, is seen in this 2013 file photo. The MaineHealth system has dropped its mask mandate, about three years after the first cases of COVID-19 made their way into the state. Credit: Seth Koenig / BDN

Just days after Northern Light Health dropped its mask mandate at most facilities, MaineHealth has stopped requiring masking at its locations across the state.

The largest health system in Maine is no longer requiring that its staff, patients and visitors wear masks when entering its hospitals or clinics as of May 1. However, MaineHealth facilities will continue to provide masks for those that request them, and will wear masks in appropriate clinical settings.

The decision from MaineHealth comes nearly a week after Northern Light Health dropped its mask mandate for staff, patients and visitors at most of its facilities.

Central Maine Healthcare, which includes Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, Bridgton Hospital and Rumford Hospital, will also drop its mask mandate effective May 1.

Face masks will still be required at some Northern Light facilities, such as Northern Light Cancer Care in Brewer and infusion centers. Those with known exposure to COVID-19 and experiencing signs of respiratory illness or who have been diagnosed with such an illness will still need to wear masks.

COVID-positive patients at MaineHealth facilities will be required to wear masks, and anyone can ask an employee to wear a mask during face-to-face interactions.

“We believe that this change will be very beneficial to communications between our care team members and our patients, and will overall help with our provision of care at all levels,” Dora Anne Mills, MaineHealth Chief Health Improvement Officer said Wednesday.

Masking will still be required in the NICU and ICU units of Central Maine Healthcare facilities, as well as at infusion sites and at the CMMC Cancer Care Center.

The number of hospitalizations in Maine from COVID-19 have dropped drastically since this time last spring, with 60 Mainers infected with the virus in hospitals across the state as of Monday morning. On April 24, 2022, there were 116 people in hospitals across the state with COVID-19.

Leela Stockley is an alumna of the University of Maine. She was raised in northern Maine, and loves her cat Wesley, her puppy Percy and staying active in the Maine outdoors.