The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Maine held steady Friday as the state continues to see average daily case counts edge higher.

Meanwhile, Aroostook County has been reclassified from low risk to moderate risk under the latest update from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The change means case counts and hospitalizations are somewhat elevated and residents who are at high risk should resume wearing masks indoors.

The rest of the state remains in the low-risk category, which means there is no formal recommendation that people wear masks indoors. The guidelines are based on case counts, hospitalizations and hospital capacity. Low risk does not mean the virus is not spreading in the community, but does indicate the rate of infections is not likely to place a strain on hospitals.

A total of 95 patients were hospitalized statewide as of Friday morning, the same number as Thursday. Of those, 21 were in intensive care and five were on ventilators. The number of Maine patients has fluctuated since March 18, when a steep and prolonged drop in patient counts stalled.

The average number of daily cases also stopped falling in mid-March, and has gradually increased about 10 percent in the past two weeks.

Other Northeast states are seeing more significant increases in daily case counts, even as hospitalization numbers have remained steady throughout the region.

The shift in the pandemic over the past two to three weeks coincides with the spread of the more contagious omicron BA.2 subvariant.

U.S. health experts have said they expect cases to rise as the new strain spreads. But many experts also have said they do not expect another surge of cases and hospitalizations similar to what some other countries have experienced because the recent omicron wave and high vaccination rates have combined to provide a high level of immunity.

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