COVID-19 hospitalizations increased slightly Monday and the number has held steady for the past nine days after dropping for several weeks.

There were 96 hospitalized patients Monday, up from 93 on Sunday, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. While that is 78 percent below a peak of 436 on Jan. 13, hospitalizations have stayed mostly the same since March 19, when there were 94 hospitalized for COVID-19. Since March 19, when hospitalizations fell below 100 for the first time in months, daily COVID-19 hospitalizations have fluctuated from 89 to 96.

While overall hospitalizations have been stable for more than a week, the number of patients in critical care continues to fall, with 15 COVID patients in the ICU on Monday. That’s down from 19 on March 19.

Meanwhile, U.S. and Maine health officials continue to watch for any uptick in cases from omicron BA.2, a more contagious subvariant that has driven up infection rates in other countries.

In Maine, a new report released Monday shows that the BA.2 subvariant was responsible for 10.4 percent of 212 positive samples in March. The remaining 89.6 percent tested positive for omicron, but not the subvariant. Nationwide, 35 percent of samples are testing positive for BA.2, and the subvariant shows up in about 50 percent of positive tests in the Northeast.

There have been no clear signs that infection rates or hospitalizations are heading back up in Maine or nationwide.


Maine does not provide updated case counts Mondays because cases are not processed on weekends. But the seven-day average of new cases has continued to decline slowly over the past two weeks. The average number of new cases dropped to 159 per day last week, the lowest level since last summer.

All but one county in Maine is listed as low risk for the virus, according to a U.S. CDC update last week. Hancock County is categorized as moderate risk. Universal mask-wearing indoors is not recommended in low-risk counties but is recommended for at-risk individuals in moderate risk counties.

The U.S. CDC’s latest weekly review – released Friday – shows that hospitalizations nationwide are down 21 percent and cases have declined 5 percent over the past week.

Dr. Paul Offit, an infectious disease expert at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, recently told CNBC that a combination of immunity from vaccines and prior infections should protect the United States from a major surge in hospitalizations from BA.2, the omicron subvariant, in the coming months.

“For right now, I choose to be optimistic that we’re just going to see a lot of mild illness and not see a dramatic increase in hospitalizations,” Offit said.

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