The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 flattened at most of the state’s hospitals this week but continued to shoot sharply upward at Bangor’s Eastern Maine Medical Center, which had by far its heaviest week since the pandemic began in Maine more than nine months ago.

EMMC, the largest hospital in the eastern half of the state, saw an average of 43 confirmed COVID-19 patients per day in the six days ending Wednesday, up dramatically from 26.6 the period before, which had been its worst week of the pandemic. Two weeks ago the figure was 12.1, and for much of the summer it stood near zero.

Despite the unprecedented burden, the hospital’s senior clinician said it is still able to handle the burden without canceling scheduled surgeries and other medical care.

“We continue to be able to support all of our normal services including being the region’s referral center,” Dr. James Jarvis, senior vice president at EMMC and physician incident commander for its parent entity, Northern Light Health, said via email. He said the Bangor hospital has limited visitation, however.

Maine Medical Center in Portland, the state’s largest hospital, had the most COVID-19 inpatients ever on Wednesday and Thursday at 41, but its daily average for the week ending Thursday was 33.7, up slightly from 31.7 the week before but still below the period before that, which was its worst of the pandemic at 36.7.

Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick saw its heaviest burden of the pandemic with an average of confirmed 9.3 COVID-19 inpatients each day, up from 8 last week and 4.3 the week before that.

But many of the state’s hospitals saw their COVID-19 patient numbers flatten, most of them for the second week running.

Southern Maine Health Care Medical Center in Biddeford reported an average of 20.1 COVID-19 inpatients a day, down from 21.7 last week and 22.7 the week before that. The figure at York Hospital – which has been undergoing an outbreak of its own – was 8.6, down from a record-setting 8.7 the week before.

MaineGeneral Medical Center in Augusta had 11.4 COVID-19 inpatients per day for the week, down from 17.4 the week before, which had been its worst of the pandemic. Similarly, Mercy Hospital in Portland had an average of 10.1 such patients for the six days ending Wednesday, down from a record 14.9 the week before. (Northern Light Health, parent of Mercy and EMMC, wasn’t able to report Thursday’s numbers for its hospitals because of the impending holiday.)

Similarly, Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston averaged 8 COVID-19 inpatients a day, down from 9.6 last week and a record high of 12.1 at the beginning of December. The city’s other hospital, St. Mary’s, saw its daily average for the six days ending Wednesday fall to 4.7 from 6.6 the week before.

Statewide, COVID-19 hospitalizations stood at 185 on Friday, below the high of 198 set Dec. 14. Maine’s worst day of the initial spring surge saw only 60 COVID-19 inpatients.

Many smaller hospitals had COVID-19 patients this week, including Franklin Memorial in Farmington, Sebasticook Valley in Pittsfield, PenBay Medical Center in Rockport, Inland in Waterville, Stephens Memorial in Norway, Waldo County General in Belfast, A.R. Gould in Presque Isle, Maine Coast Hospital in Ellsworth, Mayo Regional in Dover-Foxcroft and Blue Hill, Rumford, and Bridgton Hospitals.

The pandemic continues to rage across the country, with 227,552 Americans testing positive and 3,411 dying on Wednesday alone, substantially more than died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, according to The New York Times tracker.  As of Wednesday, Maine had the 47th lowest prevalence of the disease in the country, behind Hawaii, Vermont and Oregon.

Hospitalizations are a lagging indicator in that they typically occur one to three weeks after a person is exposed to the disease, but unlike other metrics, they are not dependent on who and how many people were tested. They can end in three ways: recovery, death, or transfer to another facility.

The Press Herald’s survey compiles data directly from hospitals. It excludes outpatients or inpatients suspected of having the virus but who were never tested. It includes most of the state’s hospitals, accounting for nearly all of the statewide hospitalizations reported each week by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

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