Maine added 31 COVID-19 deaths to the state’s official census on Friday, raising the number of pandemic deaths to 2,109 residents as the virus recedes and mask recommendations decline.
The 31 deaths added Friday were likely the result of a review of vital records that identified individuals who died in recent weeks after being diagnosed with the disease.
The state added 998 new COVID-19 cases to Maine’s official census Friday. However, these cases do not represent new infections because the state is still working on treating positive tests submitted weeks ago at the height of the omicron rise. Maine has now counted 230,273 cases of COVID-19 during the two-year pandemic.
The state had not updated the hospital’s patient numbers Friday morning. The number of COVID-19 patients in Maine hospitals rose slightly to 163 Thursday, the third day in a row in which hospital admissions have remained stable after falling steadily for several weeks.
Admissions increased from 162 on Wednesday and 158 on Tuesday. But the number of patients remains 63 percent below the peak of 436 hospitalized patients on January 13th.
Of the people admitted on Thursday, 41 were on intensive care and 11 were on respirator. The number of critically ill patients has also been relatively stable this week after a period of steady decline.
Maine officials this week changed the guidelines for primary and lower secondary schools. From Wednesday, wearing masks in schools and childcare centers should become optional, according to the state. Masks are still recommended in healthcare.
And federal health officials Thursday also eased mask recommendations, effectively saying that masks are no longer recommended for most people in indoor spaces across the country. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now classifies all 16 counties in Maine as having the risk of virus transmission affecting hospital capacity, meaning that masks are recommended for high-risk individuals and those who have recently been infected or exposed, but optional for most people.
This story will be updated.