Nicole Ivins and Lee Leviter, both of Portland, found refuge from the rain Wednesday in the pavilion at Deering Oaks. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Maine reported 464 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday. There were no additional deaths.

Since the pandemic began, Maine has logged 243,592 cases and 2,282 deaths.

After sharp increases early this week, COVID-19 hospitalizations declined slightly, from 136 on Wednesday to 132 on Thursday. There were 33 people in critical care and three on ventilators Thursday.

On Thursday, Moderna requested emergency use authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 6 months to 5 years old. If regulators approve the measure, infants and toddlers could be getting shots by this summer.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study this week that showed about 35 percent of Maine’s population had been infected with COVID-19 from the onset of the pandemic through February. Nationally, 58 percent had been infected, according to federal estimates.

Maine had the third-lowest infection rate in the nation, behind only Hawaii at 34 percent and Vermont at 29 percent, according to the U.S. CDC.

Dr. Cheryl Liechty, an infectious disease physician and epidemiologist with MaineHealth’s Pen Bay Medical Center in Rockport, said the fall and winter were difficult in Maine, with the delta wave followed by the omicron surge. But compared with other states, Maine weathered the storm well, she said.

“When the delta wave arrived in 2021, we had already achieved really impressive vaccination rates,” Liechty said. “In Maine, we did exceedingly well in 2020 pre-vaccine, and we’ve continued to do well relative to other states in the post-vaccine era.”

Some of Maine’s wastewater testing sites for COVID-19 were updated this week. The Portland Water District’s two sites, East End and Westbrook, recorded slight increases, but virus levels remained low. Brunswick declined to very low levels and Lewiston-Auburn’s levels remained flat, while Bangor, Augusta and York recorded increases.

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