The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Maine increased on Sunday.

A total of 116 patients were in hospitals statewide as of Sunday morning, including 24 in critical care and two on ventilators. That’s up 12 from Saturday’s count of 104 patients, 16 of whom were in critical care.

The number of inpatients statewide has hovered around 100 for more than a month, even as the average number of new cases reported by the state has increased about 50 percent over the past weeks, from about 200 cases a day to about 300.

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention does not report new cases on Sundays because processing is paused on weekends. It reported 317 new cases Saturday and no additional deaths.

The actual number of new infections is significantly higher than the daily reports because many people are now relying on at-home tests, which are not included in the official counts. Since the pandemic began, Maine has recorded 242,033 cases and 2,280 deaths.

Meanwhile, school officials in Maine and around the country will be watching to see if COVID-19 cases rise when students return from spring break Monday.


Local school superintendents said last week they will rely on the same protocols that were in place before break and do not anticipate a need to restore mask mandates despite a rise in cases throughout the Northeast fueled by the more contagious omicron BA.2 subvariant.

There are slight divergences in COVID19 mitigation strategies around the state, but districts generally plan to keep masks optional and continue to encourage students with symptoms to get tested and stay home if they see a positive result. Schools also plan to continue with pooled-testing — a method that combines samples from multiple people to save time and testing supplies – until the state discontinues the federally funded program on May 13. Then they will encourage students to use at-home tests provided by the state.

The state plans to send free at-home test kits with five to six tests to schools that request them. They will start sending out the 211,048 test kits that have been ordered in the coming week. Schools will then make the test kits available to families.

Maine’s rise in infections coincides with increases across the Northeast following the spread of the BA.2 omicron subvariant, which is more contagious than the original omicron variant.

Hospitalizations also have started to rise in the Northeast, although not as significantly as infection rates. The number of new hospital admissions is up 24 percent over the past week in New England, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .

Public health experts are not projecting a big leap in hospitalizations because both omicron variants tend to cause less severe cases, and with high levels of the population immunized through vaccination and prior infection, there are fewer people to infect. Also, people who are vaccinated and get breakthrough cases of COVID-19 are much more likely to get a mild version and not need hospitalization.


Aroostook County was reclassified last week as being at high risk for virus transmission, according to federal data updated late Thursday.

The high-risk category on the U.S. CDC’s COVID Data Tracker map means that community transmission of the virus is high and could strain hospital capacity. People living in high-risk areas are urged to wear a mask indoors in public spaces.

Franklin County is now considered to be at moderate risk. Residents of moderate-risk counties are advised to wear masks when indoors if they are at high risk of complications from COVID-19 because of their age or underlying health conditions.

All other Maine counties are classified as low risk, which means there is no universal recommendation to wear masks indoors. The virus is still circulating in low-risk areas, but there is little chance that illnesses will strain hospital capacity.

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