Hospitalizations for COVID-19 remained at low levels this past week across much of Maine, including those in hard-hit Cumberland and York counties.

Maine Medical Center, which treated nearly half the state’s coronavirus burden through most of the crisis, saw the number of confirmed COVID-19 inpatients oscillate between five and 11 for the week ending Thursday, down from a peak of 35 hit on both April 7 and May 25. The inpatient count of five on Thursday was the lowest there since March 20, at the beginning of the crisis.

Portland’s other major hospital, Mercy, had an average of two inpatients each day, roughly a quarter of its burden in mid-to-late May. York Hospital had no COVID-19 inpatients at all for the third week running, but Southern Maine Health Care Medical Center in Biddeford had three to five inpatients each day, comparable to the week before.

MaineGeneral in Augusta, the hospital that has had the fourth largest pandemic burden to date, had two patients each day of the period, up from one the week before, but lower than the 3.1 per day the week before that.

In Androscoggin County – which saw a dramatic spike in new COVID-19 cases in mid-May – hospitalizations have remained low. St. Mary’s in Lewiston had an average of 1.7 inpatients a day, down from 3.7 a day the week before. The city’s other hospital, Central Maine Medical Center, had zero to two inpatients this week, down slightly from the previous week. CMMC’s sister hospital in Bridgton had two patients each day.

CMMC’s chief medical officer, Dr. John Alexander, told the Press Herald recently that because of the increased testing over the past month or so, more younger and healthier people are being tested for the disease, but those found to have it are far less likely to wind up hospitalized.

On Thursday, Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor had its first COVID-19 inpatient since June 4, but Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick continued a streak of having no such patients that started May 24.

One smaller hospital, Waldo in Belfast, reported having a patient during the course of the week, but Franklin Memorial did not, according to data collected from the hospitals by the Press Herald.

In all cases, hospitalizations can end three ways: recovery, death, or transfer to another facility. The data does not include outpatients or inpatients who were suspected of having the virus but never tested.

Hospitalizations are a lagging indicator, because it typically takes two or three weeks after exposure for an acutely effected person to become sick enough to be admitted, but it is one that is a metric that is not affected by how many people are tested.

The Press Herald’s survey is for the week ending Thursday. It includes most of the state’s hospitals, and accounts for the vast majority of the statewide hospitalizations reported by the Maine CDC each week. Starting this week, MaineHealth stopped surveying its patients on Sundays at its member hospitals, which include Maine Med and SMHC, so its daily average inpatient counts can no longer be precisely calculated.

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