Maine reported more than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases for the second day in a row on Wednesday, and another increase in the number of hospitalized patients with the virus.
Five more Maine residents have died with the disease, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Both infections and hospitalizations have increased over the past few weeks in Maine and other Northeast states as new and more contagious versions of the virus spread across the region. The omicron BA.2 subvariant and two closely related subvariants – BA.2.12 and BA.2.12.1 – now account for 80 percent of the new infections in Maine, according to data released by the state.
Each of the new strains of the virus is more contagious than the previous versions, although omicron and its subvariants are less likely to cause hospitalizations and deaths than earlier strains. That fact and high levels of immunity from vaccinations or previous infections are why public health officials are not expecting a surge of hospitalizations like the one that overwhelmed the health system in January.
Hospitalizations in Maine have increased about 60 percent over the past three weeks while average case counts have more than tripled.
The state reported 1,030 new cases of COVID on Wednesday, raising the seven-day average increased to 710 new cases per day. The daily average was 200 two weeks ago.
The number of hospitalized patient increased to 169, up from 162 on Tuesday. Of those in hospitals Wednesday morning, 30 were in critical care and three were on respirators.
Since the pandemic began, Maine has recorded 248,099 cases and 2,296 deaths.
This story will be updated.