Maine COVID-19 hospitalizations stay steady as more masks return

There were 205 people hospitalized with COVID-19, the state reported Sunday, a number that has been higher in recent weeks.

Of those hospitalized statewide with the virus, 34 were in critical care units and five were on ventilators, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

With rising infections, federal experts now recommend residents of much of Maine wear masks in public, indoor spaces, and crowded outdoor spots.

On Friday, the city of Portland announced public and staff entering the Portland City Hall must now wear masks, after Cumberland County’s COVID-19 risk rose from low to high.

Also, Portland Public Schools is now recommending — but not mandating — mask wearing for all staff and students to limit the spread of the virus.

In Bangor, mask wearing will be mandated in all city buildings, including public schools, the city said.

When looking at the rate of infections, Maine isn’t doing well, having the highest seven-day case rate of all states with 407.2 per 100,000 people, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Other New England states have among the highest infection rates, according to the U.S. CDC. They are in order: Vermont, 394.7 per 100,000; Rhode Island, 385.1 per 100,000; Massachusetts, 329,7 per 100,000.

However, doctors say the rise of cases and hospitalizations are not near the amount during January’s omicron surge, and that current cases are often mild; and Maine’s high vaccination rate and recent omicron infections will protect most people from serious illness.

The scene has changed in recent weeks. On April 1 all of Maine counties were declared as low-risk transmission for virus spread, but on Thursday federal experts categorized Cumberland County and seven other counties as high risk recommending all wear masks: Sagadahoc, Lincoln, Knox, Hancock, Penobscot, Piscataquis and Aroostook.

Seven counties are now classified as moderate risk and those with health issues should mask up, including York, Kennebec, Oxford, Franklin, Somerset, Waldo and Washington. Androscoggin is the only county now categorized as low risk.

The state reported nine additional deaths and 961 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday.

The Maine CDC typically does not update new cases and additional deaths on Sundays and Mondays. Since the pandemic began,  2,325 people have died and the state has logged 250,689 cases.

The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 is expected to hit one million this week, the Washington Post reported on Sunday.

Related Stories