After declining over the weekend, COVID-19 hospitalizations ticked up Monday, although patient counts remained below 100 statewide.

COVID-19 hospitalizations increased from 90 on Sunday to 97 on Monday, with 24 in intensive care and three patients on a ventilator.

The daily number of hospitalized patients has stayed relatively steady since mid-March, mostly hovering in the 90s and far lower than the peak of 436 on Jan. 13.

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention does not release new case counts over the weekend, so the next data release will be Tuesday, covering cases from Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

But the overall trend is up in Maine, similar to much of the Northeast. Maine’s 28 percent increase in average daily case counts over a 14-day period – to 208 per day – ranks 17th among the states and Washington, D.C., according to the New York Times COVID-19 Tracker. The top four are Washington D.C., with a 76 percent increase, followed by Rhode Island, New Jersey and New York, all with case count increases of 60 percent or higher over the past two weeks.

Hospitalizations are starting to increase slightly in Washington, D.C., New Jersey and New York, but remain flat in Rhode Island, according to U.S. CDC data.


Increases are being driven by the BA.2 omicron subvariant, public health experts say, although there’s less overall concern than with prior waves because of high levels of vaccination and prior infection and the availability of Paxlovid, an anti-viral medication that can prevent nearly 90 percent of hospitalizations.

The BA.2 omicron subvariant is more contagious but, like the original omicron variant, is less severe than earlier strains of the coronavirus.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, a COVID-19 adviser to the White House, told reporters recently that while he believes there may be a rise in cases stemming from BA.2, it may not lead to a significant spike in hospitalizations, because of high levels of vaccination and prior infection immunity.

Meanwhile, wastewater testing at various Maine sewage treatment plants is showing mixed results, with increases in virus prevalence in some areas, including a big jump in Bangor last week followed by a decline Monday. Testing is typically conducted twice per week at most plants.

Bangor’s virus prevalence – at 1.3 million copies of the virus per liter of sewage last week – was among the top 1 percent of sewer districts surveyed by Biobot. Biobot is a Massachusetts-based wastewater sampling company that contracts with various sewer districts in 41 states. On Monday, the levels dropped to 865,000 copies.

Bangor’s virus levels are below what was seen in late January, when samples first started being reported to Biobot and levels were at about 2 million copies per liter of sewage. But Bangor’s current COVID-19 wastewater levels are also much higher than in mid- to late-March, when levels were at about 200,000 to 300,000 copies per liter.

However, other plants are experiencing slight increases or flat levels, including Portland Water District plants in the East End and in Westbrook, Brunswick, Lewiston-Auburn and York. Decreases were recorded in Belfast, Blue Hill and Presque Isle.

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