Maine’s COVID-19 hospitalizations declined slightly on Monday, dropping to the lowest level since late August.

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported 142 patients are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, down from 144 on Sunday. It’s the fewest patients hospitalized since the delta variant took hold in Maine late last summer. And the number has plummeted 67 percent from 436 hospitalizations on Jan. 13, the peak of the omicron variant wave in Maine. On Monday, 29 patients were listed in critical care and 10 were on ventilators.

All Maine counties are now considered to be in the moderate risk category by the U.S. CDC, according to an update posted Thursday. Most remaining mask mandates are going away as pandemic conditions improve.

Many schools are dropping mask mandates this week if they have not already made masks optional. Last week, the Maine CDC recommended that schools make masks optional by Wednesday.

Noting the loosening or ending of pandemic restrictions and the reduced number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19, Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine CDC, said in a tweet Saturday that “as a nation, the facts on the ground have changed and, thus, our recommendations have changed.”

One of the last holdouts to mandatory masking is Portland schools, although in a letter to the community on Friday, Superintendent Xavier Botana said that the district is expected to “transition to mask optional.” He did not set a date for mask optional, but said they are moving “cautiously and deliberately” and noted that the mitigation efforts “have allowed us to run school safely for all of this year.”

The city of Portland recently rescinded its indoor mask mandate, but city buildings, such as City Hall and the Portland Expo, still require masks. City spokeswoman Jessica Grondin said no decisions have been made, and “we are reviewing the latest info from CDC and current data.”

Meanwhile, wastewater testing continues to show a decline of virus prevalence in most cities and towns conducting the testing, including in Bangor, Portland, York and Presque Isle.

On the vaccination front, about 74 percent of Maine people are fully vaccinated, and 43 percent have gotten a booster shot.

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