While COVID-19 infections keep spreading in Maine and across the nation, the number of people hospitalized with the disease in the state continues to decline, a clear sign that the highly contagious omicron wave is subsiding here.

On Saturday the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 352 people were hospitalized statewide with illness.

While still high, the number is heading in the right direction; on Friday 357 patients were hospitalized with the virus, and that was down from 416 on Monday.

Of those hospitalized Saturday, the state reported that 86 patients were in critical care units, lower than Monday’s number of 97. Of the 86 in critical care, 38 were on ventilators.

Five more deaths from COVID-19 were reported by the Maine CDC on Saturday, bringing the state’s total death count since the pandemic began to 1,738.

Cases continue to grow, with the state reporting 174,225 cases since the pandemic began, or 1,301 cases for every 100,000 people.


However, that isn’t the full picture. Because the Maine CDC is working to clear a backlog of thousands of positive tests, the case count no longer reflects the rate of infections. In addition, many people are taking home tests that are not always reported.

Moreover, people who have been vaccinated, received booster shots and wear masks in public places are catching the highly contagious omicron variant. “It could be a majority of Americans catch the virus,” said infectious disease specialist Dr. Douglas Waite.

But most of those who are vaccinated and boosted are well protected, said Waite, chief medical officer of Covenant Health in Tewksbury, Mass., the parent company of St. Mary’s Health System in Lewiston. He added that the majority of breakthrough cases are mild.

The Maine CDC reported Saturday that 72.58 percent of Mainers are fully vaccinated, and 555,250 of the state’s 1.34 million population have had booster shots.

Without vaccinations and a booster shot, people get much sicker with omicron, Waite said.

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