The number of patients in Maine hospitals with COVID-19 fell again Wednesday and is now down 23 percent over the past eight days.
There were 177 hospitalized patients with COVID nationwide as of Wednesday morning, up from 184 on Tuesday. Patient count hit a three-month high of 231 on May 17, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Of those hospitalized Wednesday morning, 19 were in intensive care and two were on ventilators.
The state also reported 560 new COVID cases and one additional death on Wednesday.
While the number of daily cases and hospitalizations in Maine and other northeastern states has declined, the region continues to have the highest infection rates in the country. However, western and southern states that did not experience the spike in April are now reporting a steady rise in cases.
Maine has reported an average of 582 new cases per day for the past week, compared to an average of 809 new cases earlier this month.
Maine had the seventh-highest infection rate in the country as of Tuesday, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Maine reported 323 new cases per 100,000 residents over the past seven days, compared to a national rate of 220 per 100,000. The data had not been updated as of Wednesday morning.
The state’s latest report on genome testing of the virus shows that two of the newest omicron subvariants – BA.2.12 and BA.2.12.1 – are now responsible for the majority of new infections. The highly contagious strains cause less severe symptoms in most people than previous strains of the virus but can still lead to hospitalizations in the elderly, people with underlying health problems and people who have never been vaccinated, health officials say.
Other new subvariants – BA.4 and BA.5 – are circulating in a growing number of countries and are being closely monitored in the United States. The tribes have been recorded in Minnesota and California, but not yet in the Northeast. They appear to be more contagious and can reinfect people who contracted COVID during last winter’s first Omicron wave, or who have waning immunity to vaccination.
Health officials continue to recommend vaccinations and booster shots, which they say are still effective in protecting people from severe symptoms and hospitalizations.
Since the pandemic began, the state has recorded 2,345 deaths and 261,031 cases. However, the number of cases is understated because many people who test positive do tests at home and do not report the results.
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