The number of Maine hospital patients with COVID-19 increased slightly Wednesday and has now climbed 29 percent in the past 10 days.

A total of 143 infected patients were hospitalized statewide on Wednesday morning, including 24 in critical care, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s up from 141 Tuesday and is the highest number since early June.

For a second straight day, none of the patients in intensive care were connected to ventilators because they could not breathe on their own, the state reported. Tuesday was the first day since October 2020 there were no Maine patients ill enough to need a ventilator, according to CDC data.

Maine also reported 246 new cases Wednesday, bringing the seven-day average to 207 cases per day. Infections confirmed with at-home tests are not included in the official counts.

While the case count is much higher than that experienced during the past two summers, Maine now has the third-lowest infection rate in the country, with only Vermont and New Hampshire having lower rates, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Maine has recorded 111 new cases per 100,000 residents over the past seven days, compared to a national rate of 266 cases per 100,000 residents.

Hospitalizations also have been increasing nationwide as new, more contagious omicron subvariants drive up infection rates.

While less likely to cause severe illness than previous strains, omicron BA.4 and BA.5 are much more transmissible and more likely to infect people who have some past immunity, whether from vaccination or past infection. Health officials say older people with underlying medical conditions and younger, unvaccinated people are most likely to need hospital care following an infection.

Since the pandemic began, Maine has logged 273,813 cases and 2,464 deaths.

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