Maine reported another 572 cases of COVID-19 Thursday as the state continues to see sustained levels of high transmission while case numbers drop in other parts of the United States.

Hospitals across the state reported no decline in the number of patients that have filled intensive care units in recent weeks and forced some hospitals to delay elective surgeries.

In all, there have been 103,041 cases and 1,160 deaths from COVID-19 in Maine since the start of the pandemic. The numbers include six new deaths reported Thursday.

The seven-day average of daily new cases is 462, up from an average of 399 two weeks ago, but down from an average of 521 new cases per day a month ago.

Maine officials earlier this week attributed the high case numbers to a variety of factors, including the spread of the delta variant in rural regions, increased travel and people letting their guard down as the pandemic continues.

“Up until recently, rural parts of (Maine and other states with high transmission) were relatively protected from COVID for a number of reasons,” Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said Wednesday. “With (the delta variant), the virus is being introduced to parts of the state where there had been virtually no exposure to COVID.”

The six deaths reported Thursday include one resident each from Cumberland, Franklin, Hancock, Penobscot, Piscataquis and York counties. Three were women and three were men. All six were age 80 or older.

Hospitalizations in Maine also continue to be high. On Thursday there were 206 people hospitalized with COVID-19, including 80 in critical care and 33 on ventilators. There are 46 available critical care beds out of a total of 334 in the state and 213 available ventilators out of a total of 305.

COVID-19 inpatient counts at Maine’s hospitals have remained consistently high for four weeks. Maine Medical Center in Portland has delayed some elective surgeries because of the strain on hospital resources and staff and officials said the backlog of patients reached 1,500 this week.

The average daily number of such patients at Maine Medical Center stood at 30.1 for the week ending Thursday, up from 28.3 the previous week. At Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, the figure declined slightly to 23.7 from 26 the week before.

MaineGeneral in Augusta, Lewiston’s Central Maine Medical Center, Midcoast in Brunswick, and York Hospital saw slight increases in patient numbers while Southern Maine Health Care in Biddeford saw its average daily COVID-19 inpatient count stay essentially unchanged at 14.4 a day, down from 14.7 the previous week.

One exception to the generally consistent pattern was Franklin Memorial in Farmington, which has seen an unprecedented burden over the past three weeks, climbing to an all-pandemic record of 7.6 inpatients a day for the week ending Thursday. Prior to October, the hospital’s worst week, in early February, averaged just 1.6 COVID-19 inpatients a day.

A total of 68.5 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, according to the Maine CDC’s online dashboard. That number increases to 77.8 percent among those ages 12 and up who are eligible.

Meanwhile, new cases in the U.S. have been on the decline. The seven-day average of daily new cases reported Thursday was 71,962, down from a daily average of 117,994 cases one month ago, according to the New York Times.

Staff Writer Colin Woodard contributed to this report.


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