Hospitalizations from COVID-19 are continuing to decline in Maine in a sign the omicron surge may be subsiding.

On Saturday there were 339 people hospitalized with the virus across the state, a decline from 355 on Friday and the lowest number of hospitalizations the state has seen in over a month.

Maine also reported another 1,095 cases of COVID-19, though public health officials have de-emphasized daily case counts recently due to a backlog of more than 50,000 unprocessed tests, and said hospitalizations are a more useful number.

While hospitalizations are declining and other signs – like a lower positivity rate and wastewater testing data – are pointing to a decline in COVID-19 transmission, serious illness and death are also continuing to be reported.

Four more people were reported Saturday to have died with COVID-19 in Maine, adding to 23 additional deaths Friday and a pandemic total of 1,804. Information on the people whose deaths were reported Saturday was not provided by the Maine CDC.

Daily case counts have lately been a less reliable metric for measuring the state of the pandemic because of the backlog of unprocessed tests but also because of the proliferation of at-home testing and restricted supplies of tests.


Still, other indicators in addition to hospitalizations are suggesting the state’s COVID-19 case load is waning. The positivity rate – the percentage of all tests that come back positive – declined from more than 21 percent the week before last to around 13 percent this past week.

And the state has been getting more data from wastewater systems across the state – including Brunswick, Belfast, Bangor, Calais, Presque Isle and Lewiston-Auburn – all showing steep declines in transmission, Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah said Friday.

Yet the state is continuing to deal with a high level of severe illness that is contributing to many deaths. While the number of overall hospitalizations dropped Saturday, the number of people in critical care rose slightly from 82 on Friday to 83. Thirty-six patients were on ventilators, the same number as was reported Friday.

Vaccinations have fallen off in Maine after increased demand before the holidays, though the state still has among the highest vaccination and booster rates. Overall 978,737 people are fully vaccinated, or 72.8 percent of the population, and 563,259 people, or 41.9 percent, have gotten boosters.

Across the U.S., COVID-19 cases are falling from a mid-January omicron peak that at one point saw the seven-day average of daily new cases reach 806,795. On Saturday, 310,155 new cases were reported nationwide and the seven-day average of new cases had fallen to 317,764, according to The New York Times.

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