The number of patients with COVID-19 in Maine hospitals climbed to 107 on Thursday, the highest level since March 18.

Hospitalizations have been fluctuating since mid-March, mostly remaining just below 100 even as the number of new cases has climbed in recent weeks. The statewide patient count rose from 100 on Wednesday to 107 Thursday, with 18 patients in critical care and two on ventilators.

Aroostook County moved to high risk for virus transmission, according to federal data updated late Thursday. The high-risk category on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID Data Tracker map means that community transmission of the virus is high. People living in high-risk areas, which are red on the map, are urged to wear a mask indoors while in public and on public transit.

Franklin County went from low risk for community transmission to moderate risk on Thursday. Residents of moderate risk, or yellow, 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.

Piscataquis, Penobscot, Washington and Hancock counties, which were in the moderate-risk category last week, joined Maine’s 10 other counties in the green, or low-risk, category on Thursday.

The U.S. CDC updates its “community levels” data weekly, looking at case counts, new hospital admissions and hospital capacity to determine the COVID-19 risk levels by county.


Maine’s CDC reported 439 new cases of COVID on Thursday and one additional death. Case counts can indicate if infection rates are rising or falling, but the actual number of 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 241,249 cases and 2,278 deaths.

The average number of new cases reported each day in Maine has increased 50 percent in the past 14 days, from 200 to 300. 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. CDC.

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.

Most patients who need hospital care have not been fully vaccinated.

Testing for the virus in wastewater across the state shows cases are likely to keep rising in some areas, although some testing sites are still not showing any sustained increase in virus counts, according to Maine CDC data.

Wastewater in Bangor, Augusta, Brunswick and York all contain rising concentrations of the virus, which is considered a leading indicator of community spread. Samples taken from wastewater in Portland, Westbrook and Lewiston are showing no significant increases.


Comments are no longer available on this story