The number of new COVID-19 cases and overall hospitalizations held steady Friday after a dramatic decline over the past four weeks.

A total of 135 patients were hospitalized with the virus as of Friday morning, including 21 in critical care and 10 on ventilators, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s up slightly from 132 patients statewide on Thursday, but down 43 percent from May 17, when Maine reported a three-month peak of 231 hospitalized patients.

The state also reported 314 new cases on Thursday, bringing the seven-day average to 262 new cases per day. The state was reporting an average of more than 800 new cases a day in early May. The state also reported one additional COVID-related death.

Maine had the nation’s highest COVID-19 infection rate just over a month ago, but now ranks 42nd and has the second lowest rate of new cases in the eastern United States. Connecticut has a slightly lower infection rate.

Maine’s infection rate has dropped from 407 new cases per 100,000 residents one month ago to 141 new cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days, according to the latest data compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Maine’s rate is now the eighth lowest among all states and well below the national seven-day infection rate of 230 cases per 100,000 people.

And new federal data released Thursday shows all 16 counties are now designated as having low or medium community levels of the virus. Twelve counties are now designated as low, which means there is no longer a formal masking recommendation for most of the state based on reduced case counts and hospitalizations.

Since the pandemic began, Maine has recorded 265,885 cases and 2,402 deaths.

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