The number of Maine residents hospitalized with COVID-19 has reached its lowest point since Nov. 9 and is now less than half the peak set last month during the omicron surge.

According to data tracked by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 216 COVID-19 patients were in Maine hospitals Monday, down from a high of 436 set on Jan. 13. Of those currently hospitalized, 46 are in critical care. That’s the lowest number of critical care patients since Oct. 9 and just over one-third of the high of 133 set back on Dec. 19.

The dramatic reduction in hospitalizations over the last month has helped to ease the strain on Maine hospitals, which dealt with a stretch of 17 consecutive days in January of at least 400 people hospitalized with the virus. Many facilities received assistance from Maine National Guard members, crews supplied by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or both.

The downward trend in hospitalizations is playing out across the country as well, although the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not updated its data since Feb. 13. On that day, there were 80,185 patients on average, a 45 percent decrease from the omicron high of 146,534 set on Jan. 20.

The reason for the pause is because the Biden administration has been working to improve COVID-19 data reporting, including on hospitalizations. Hospitals will soon be asked to report the number of patients who are admitted with COVID-19 and separate those from individuals who go in for other reasons and test positive after being admitted.

Also Monday, the Maine CDC added 430 new cases, bringing the total to 218,797 since the pandemic began. That’s roughly 1 in 6 residents. Those cases were added as a result of the Maine CDC’s ongoing effort to clear a backlog of positive tests that had built up after the holiday season and don’t necessarily offer a current picture of the virus’s spread.

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Other metrics, including the number of raw positive tests coming in, and the positivity rate (the percentage of all tests that come back positive), are showing steep declines in virus transmission. For instance, as of Feb. 17 the Maine CDC received 485 positive tests per day over a seven-day period. That’s down from 2,249 every day on average this time last month.

As transmission and hospitalizations have started to come down, the number of deaths has slowed, too. According to the U.S. CDC, there are an average of 1,920 deaths attributable to the virus every day, down from an omicron high of 2,550 at the beginning of the month. Even with that decrease, though, the rate of death remains higher than at any point during the delta surge last summer and fall.

Overall, more than 930,000 Americans have died with COVID-19, including 1,960 residents of Maine. The number of deaths per capita in Maine during the pandemic is fourth lowest of any state, behind Vermont, Hawaii and Utah.

Maine also is one of the highest vaccinated states. As of Monday, 985,517 residents were considered fully vaccinated, which means they have had two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or the one-dose Johnson & Johnson version. That represents 73.3 percent of all residents. Also, 575,715 people (42.8 percent) have gotten booster shots.


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