The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Maine jumped again on Monday, setting yet another record and adding to the strain on the state’s hospital network.

There were 261 COVID-19 patients in Maine hospitals Monday, including 72 in critical care and 35 on ventilators. That’s an increase of 12 patients from Sunday and an increase of 46, or 21 percent, in just one week.

About two-thirds of hospitalized COVID-19 patients have not been fully vaccinated, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

As they deal with high numbers of coronavirus patients, many hospitals have had to postpone elective surgeries or have had to keep people in the emergency room longer than usual. Staffing shortages have made things even more challenging. Most hospitals have the ability to shuffle patients around to make room for increases, but COVID patients often require a higher level of care, especially if they are in the ICU or on a ventilator.

Dr. Dora Anne Mills, chief health improvement officer for MaineHealth, said health officials now have more tools, such as monoclonal antibodies, to treat people before they are hospitalized, but people aren’t getting tested soon enough.

“If you get tested as soon as possible, there are some treatments,” she said. “It’s not a substitute for the vaccine, but we do have a good supply of monoclonal antibodies, which can be done outpatient.

“Unfortunately, people are waiting to get tested, and by then it can be too late for that treatment.”

The CDC has said that monoclonal antibodies are effective when administered within 10 days of initial symptoms.

Hospitalizations are still trending downward across the country but are starting to level off somewhat. According to the U.S. CDC, an average of 38,845 people are in the hospital each day, a 32 percent decrease from this time last month.

New COVID-19 case numbers are not released in Maine on Mondays because the state CDC staff does not process tests over the weekend, but Maine’s most recent seven-day case average, 490, remains at a sustained high level.

Maine’s most recent seven-day positivity rate, or the percentage of tests that come back positive, was 8.2 percent on Monday, the highest it’s been in weeks. Two weeks ago, the average rate was 5.8 percent. An increase in the positivity rate generally indicates the virus is spreading faster in the community.

Across the country, cases have started to tick back up after several weeks of declining numbers. According to the U.S. CDC, the seven-day U.S. average is 78,552, a 9 percent increase over the last two weeks.

The most recent seven-day average case rate in the U.S. is 166 per 100,000 people. Maine’s rate is 194 cases per 100,000 people, which is 26th highest among states.

Since the pandemic began, 2,935 people in Maine have been hospitalized with COVID-19 at some point, according to data tracked by the Maine CDC.

In all, Maine has logged 111,114 confirmed or probable cases of the virus and 1,230 people have died. Both remain among the lowest per capita of any state.

Cases have been spreading largely among unvaccinated populations, including children. According to the most recent data from the Maine Department of Education released late last week, there have been 163 school outbreaks and 4,875 cases in the last 30 days.

Meanwhile, vaccinations continue at a steady rate, with doses for 5- to 11-year-olds and booster shots contributing significantly. Last Wednesday, more than 10,000 doses were administered, the first day of more than 10,000 inoculations since May 21.

Overall, Maine has administered 951,659 final doses of vaccine, which represents 70.8 percent of all residents. Additionally, 166,585 individuals have gotten booster doses. Boosters are recommended for anyone 65 and older who got the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines originally, as well as anyone with immunodeficiencies and anyone who works or lives in a high-risk setting. Those who received the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine are advised to get a booster regardless of their age.

Among elementary school-age children, 10,943 have gotten the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, or 11.3 percent of all children in that age bracket. As has been true for much of the state’s vaccination effort so far, there are major geographic disparities.

In Lincoln County, 21 percent of younger children have gotten first doses, and in Cumberland County, 19 percent. In six counties – Franklin, Piscataquis, Washington, Somerset, Androscoggin and Aroostook – fewer than 5 percent of 5- to 11-year-olds have gotten a shot.


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