Maine reported a total of 137 hospitalized patients with COVID-19 on Thursday morning and two additional deaths.

Those hospitalized Thursday included 17 patients in critical care and five on ventilators, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The total patient count is up from 136 on Monday, but well below the total of 231 patients on May 17.

The Maine CDC also reported 249 new cases Thursday. The seven-day average stands at 230 new cases per day, down from more than 800 new cases a day in early May.

The state has seen virtually no change in case counts or hospitalizations over the past week and new federal data released Thursday show no change in community levels or safety advice for Maine’s 16 counties.

County-level data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention designate 12 of the state’s 16 counties as having low community levels based on case counts and patient numbers. The other four counties – Piscataquis, Penobscot, Hancock and Washington – are classified as having a medium rate of spread and hospitalizations.

Highly contagious omicron subvariants now account for the vast majority of cases in Maine, and the CDC reported Monday that a new faster spreading strain, BA.4, was detected in the latest round of samples from infected residents.


BA.4 and BA.5 have caused increased infection rates in other parts of the world and some experts expect them to quickly spread through the United States and fuel another uptick in cases. The two closely related subvariants now account for roughly 20 percent of cases in the U.S., according to the latest federal data.

However, the newest strains do not appear to cause more severe symptoms than the other subvariants in circulation, so hospital patient counts are not expected to rise significantly.

The newest strains of the virus are able to infect people with some levels of immunity from previous infections or vaccinations, but health experts say staying up to date with vaccinations and booster shots still provides the best protection from infection and severe illness. An unvaccinated person is 19 times more likely to die from the disease than someone who has been vaccinated, said Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine CDC.

Maine continues to have one of the lowest infection rates in the country after briefly becoming the nation’s No. 1 hotspot last month.

Maine recorded 126 new infections per 100,000 residents over the past seven days, compared to a national rate of 219. Hawaii, Wyoming and Florida have the highest infections rates.

Since the pandemic began, the state has recorded 267,182 cases and 2,408 deaths.

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