The number of Maine hospital patients with COVID-19 climbed to 231 on Tuesday, the highest level since mid-February.

But, while patient counts have increased steadily over the past three weeks, the number of critically ill patients has remained relatively stable. There were 38 patients in critical care and three on ventilators as of Tuesday morning, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Maine CDC also reported 615 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday.

Maine continues to see new, more-contagious strains of the virus spreading through the state, with wastewater testing showing no signs the latest wave is subsiding.

The latest test results show sharp increases in virus counts in York and Brunswick. The Augusta and Lewiston areas also continue to see rising levels, while tests in the Portland region show virus prevalence is holding steady.

An outbreak in the South Portland High School community has disrupted class schedules for the past week. The school switched to remote learning most of last week and Principal Michele LaForge sent a note to families Monday afternoon to say remote learning will continue at least through Tuesday. She blamed staff shortages, saying “so many of us are sick that there are not enough of us to safely supervise the students who are present.”


Maine’s seven-day average of new cases is now 610, double the average one month ago but down from 809 earlier this month.

Maine had the nation’s highest infection rate earlier this month when its daily case counts topped 1,000. As of Tuesday, Maine had the ninth-highest infection rate while much of the Northeast, as well as Hawaii and Illinois, are now experiencing higher rates of new infections.

Maine has recorded 310 new infections per 100,000 residents over the past seven days, while the nationwide rate is 191 per 100,000 people.

Maine’s hospital patient counts did not increase as dramatically as the infection rate over the past month. That is believed to be the result of high levels of immunity from vaccinations or previous infections, as well as the fact that the latest strains are not as likely to cause severe illness.

Health officials have said most hospitalized patients are older, have underlying health conditions or are unvaccinated.

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