The state reported more than 1,000 new cases of COVID-19 Saturday, the most Maine has seen since March 3.

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention listed 1,018 new cases, more than double the 470 reported Friday.

The state also reported three additional deaths from the virus Saturday. Maine’s death toll now numbers 2,286.

And after reporting low virus levels recently, COVID-19 levels doubled at both Portland Water District wastewater treatment plants this week.

Dr. Dora Mills, chief health improvement officer at MaineHealth, said Saturday that the bad news is cases are rising, but the good news is illnesses remain less serious.

“Cases are up a lot more, but the key is most people infected are being treated as outpatients,” Mills said. The COVID-19 omicron variants keep mutating, to the BA.2, and now the BA.4 and BA.5 variants, she said. “They’re becoming more and more contagious. That’s the not so good news.”


But people have built up a lot of immunity through high vaccination rates in Maine and the rest of New England, as well as through the high number of infections from January’s omicron surge, she said.

“So we’ve got a good immunity wall now. Not enough not to (counteract) the very contagious variant,” although the vaccines, including the boosters, reduce the chances of getting infected, she said. “The vaccines are protecting us from more serious illness.”

And, she added, there’s plenty of tools to combat the virus. “In January it was tough to find testing, and it was very hard to find outpatient treatment.”

Now both are plentiful. The four tools, Mills said, are vaccines, testing, treatment and high-quality masks.

When asked if cases are likely to continue to rise in Maine, Mills said that with more contagious mutations emerging, it’s hard to predict more than two weeks out – it’s taking longer to determine their virulence and ability to evade immunity, she said. But based on indicators, Mills expects cases may continue to rise for another one or two weeks.

Gov. Janet Mills, Dora Mills’ sister, announced Thursday that she has COVID-19. The governor is working remotely and experiencing mild symptoms, like a cold, Dr. Mills said. The governor has been vaccinated and received booster shots.



There were 149 patients hospitalized with the virus in Maine on Saturday. Of those, 35 were in critical care units and four were on ventilators. On Thursday, there were 132 hospitalized, and on Friday, 143. For more than a month, the number of patients hospitalized had remained fairly steady at 90 and 100. But the recent numbers are far less than during January’s surge.

Unvaccinated people have represented roughly two-thirds of the COVID-19 patients treated in Maine hospitals, doctors say.

Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah tweeted Friday that COVID-19 hospitalizations in Maine continue to increase, driven largely by the more contagious versions of the virus. Like Mills, Shah said it’s important to note that Maine is nowhere near what the state experienced earlier this year.

On Jan. 21, there were 422 people in Maine hospitals, and medicines to treat patients have become more readily available, Shah said.

While indoor mask recommendations have been lifted except for those with compromised immune systems, Mills said it’s smart to wear masks in indoor, crowded spaces. Mills said she wears high-quality masks when going to a crowded store.

“I take them everywhere.”

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