Maine reported a slight rise in the number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 on Friday.

There were 223 people with the virus in Maine hospitals Friday morning, up from 221 on Thursday. Of those hospitalized Friday, 35 were in critical care and two were on ventilators.

The overall number of hospitalized patients has increased 56 percent in the past two weeks. But the numbers in critical care and on ventilators have remained largely stable.

Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a series of social media posts Friday that this wave of infections and hospitalizations is unlike past surges.

“In prior waves, the number of patients in the ICU and on ventilators grew in tandem with overall numbers. But here, we have not seen the same parallel growth in the most severely ill patients,” he wrote on Twitter.

And, while data show that the percentage of hospitalized patients who are vaccinated has increased, Shah said those patients are typically older and more vulnerable to the virus.


“Generally, the composition of those who are hospitalized now are older vaccinated individuals and younger, unvaccinated ones,” he wrote.

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention also reported 773 new cases of the virus Friday and three additional deaths.

The seven-day average is now 671 new cases per day, a 50 percent increase from the daily average two weeks ago. Maine also continues to have one of the highest infection rates in the country – 347 new cases per 100,000 residents over the past seven days. The national average is 179 cases per 100,000 people, according to the U.S. CDC. Maine’s infection rate ranks fifth after Rhode Island, Hawaii, Massachusetts and New York.

Official case counts indicate whether transmission is speeding up or slowing down, but they undercount actual infections because so many people now rely on at-home tests that are not included in official counts.

Wastewater testing continues to show elevated and rising virus levels around the state, indicating that infection rates have not peaked. The latest results show fairly stable levels of virus in greater Portland, while virus counts have sharply increased in Brunswick and York. Testing at the Augusta and Lewiston-area sewer districts show a steady rise in virus levels.

The latest genomic testing indicates that there are now several omicron subvariants driving infections in Maine, including omicron BA.2, BA.2.12.1 and BA.2.7, according to data posted by the Maine CDC. The subvariants are even more contagious than the original omicron strain, but do not appear to cause more severe symptoms.

An easing of case counts earlier this week resulted in Maine’s southern and coastal counties being removed from the list of those experiencing high levels of transmission.

A map posted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday afternoon shows four Maine counties with high community levels of the virus: Aroostook, Piscataquis, Penobscot and Hancock. Four other counties that were designated at high levels a week ago were downgraded to medium: Cumberland, Sagadahoc, Lincoln and Knox. The rest of the state is also designated medium.

The U.S. CDC recommends universal mask wearing indoors in counties with high community levels. Masks are recommended for at-risk people in medium-level counties. The designations are based on infection rates, hospitalizations and hospital capacity.

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