Maine reported an increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations and in the pace of new infections Wednesday.

The number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide rose to 115 Wednesday and includes 22 people in critical care and five on ventilators, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The overall number is up from 109 on Tuesday, but down from 162 a month ago.

The CDC also reported 371 new cases Tuesday. That raises the seven-day average of new cases to 246 per day, the highest level in more than two weeks. The average is up from 146 cases per day one week ago, but still well below the average of 502 cases per day a month ago.

Official case numbers are an undercount of the actual infection rate because they do not include at-home tests. While that makes it impossible to compare case counts to earlier points in the pandemic before the profusion of at-home tests, the daily case reports are an indicator of short-term increases or decreases in virus transmission.

The uptick in cases means Maine is no longer among the two or three states with the lowest infection rates in the country. Maine has the eighth-lowest infection rate as of Wednesday, with 122 cases per 100,000 residents over the last seven days. The national rate stands at 233 cases per 100,000 people.

The most recent results of wastewater testing around the state are mixed, with increasing virus prevalence in some communities and continued declines in others. Two weeks ago, the results were more consistently showing declines in virus counts around the state.

Recent tests of wastewater in Bath, Brunswick, Greater Portland and Lewiston-Auburn show upticks in virus counts. While wastewater data fluctuates more than some indicators, it is considered a reliable signal of real time virus levels in a community.

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