Maine reported 1,198 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and four additional deaths, and additional omicron subvariants have been detected in the state.

The seven-day average of daily new cases has more than tripled during the past month, going from 199.3 on April 1 to 638.1 on Tuesday.

Hospitalizations also rose again Tuesday to 162 patients statewide, a 60 percent increase in two weeks.

The surge in cases in Maine is similar to what’s happening in other states in the Northeast, where the omicron subvariant BA.2 and other new subvariants are driving up infection rates. New more contagious strains of the omicron BA.2 subvariant have spread through the region and in Maine, data show.

“We’re still receiving more positive test results each day, reflective of increased transmission,” said Robert Long, Maine CDC spokesman, in a statement. “Wastewater screening and hospitalizations also indicate that we are in a period of increased transmission, which is consistent with what other jurisdictions saw with the omicron subvariants.”

Case counts have risen most dramatically in the Northeast, with the more contagious BA.2.12 and BA.2.12.1 omicron subvariants fueling increases, especially in New York. Those are closely related to the omicron BA.2 subvariant and, like BA.2, are highly transmissible but less likely to cause severe illness than earlier versions.


The most recent genomic sequencing report in Maine, released on April 25 by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, shows that BA.2.12.1 and other subvariants made up about 30 percent of samples tested, with BA.2 representing about 50 percent and the original BA.1 omicron variant about 20 percent of  samples.

The U.S. CDC says BA.2.12.1 is about 25 percent more transmissible than BA.2.

COVID-19 hospitalizations increased from 150 on Monday to 162 on Tuesday, with 30 patients in critical care and three on a ventilator. Hospitalizations are still far below the Jan. 13 peak of 436.

About 67 percent of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 since vaccines became readily available last year have been unvaccinated. While vaccines continue to protect against serious illness in most cases, that percentage has decreased because the number of people who lack immunity from either vaccination or a previous infection has declined.

Among new hospital admissions reported to the state from April 16-26 for which the vaccination status was noted, 55 percent were unvaccinated and 45 percent were vaccinated.

On Monday, MaineHealth reported that 44 of its 57 current COVID-19 hospital patients are vaccinated. MaineHealth is the parent organization of Maine Medical Center in Portland and seven other Maine hospitals.


Public health officials say the higher percentage of vaccinated COVID patients being hospitalized doesn’t mean the vaccines are any less effective. It merely reflects that the number of unvaccinated Maine residents that haven’t been infected is now a smaller percentage of the state population than it was last spring and summer.

About 75 percent of Maine residents are now fully vaccinated, and 90 percent of people age 60 and older, the population group most likely to need hospitalization.

Vaccinated patients who require hospitalization tend to be older adults with weakened immune systems related to other conditions. Health officials continue to recommend that people in these groups get a second booster shot to maximize their immunity.

Also, many Maine residents who are not vaccinated have already contracted COVID-19, giving them some immunity. The U.S. CDC reported last week that about 35 percent of Maine’s population has contracted COVID-19 at some point during the pandemic, with most of the infections occurring since September 2021.

Since the pandemic began, Maine has recorded 247,069 cases of COVID-19, and 2,291 deaths.

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