Several major cities and towns in Maine experienced COVID-19 concentrations in wastewater, which were among the highest in the country in the past week, with most counties experiencing large increases.
The state’s top public health official warned last week that wastewater data showed that the virus was back on the rise here. Reported COVID-19 infections have also increased this week with the more contagious version of the omicron variant accounts for most new cases.
The concentration of the virus in wastewater at locations across Maine is still lower than when the state began testing wastewater regularly in late January, amid the first omicron rise, according to data from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention and Biobot. However, the sharp rise in virus concentration in wastewater could indicate an increase in cases where Maine may not catch fully due to greater use of home testing.
Significant jumps at several wastewater test sites in the state over the past week placed them among the worst compared to U.S. sites using the same detection method right now. Since April 7, sewage test sites in BangorBelfast, Brunswick, Calais, Fort Kent, Houlton, Machias, Lewiston and Westbrook have reported wastewater with virus concentrations at the highest 10 per cent nationwide.
Virus concentrations remain lower elsewhere in the state, but most have still risen upwards compared to a few weeks ago.
Reported COVID-19 cases in Maine have also risen 50 percent in the past week, with the seven-day average rising to 316 daily cases on Friday, up from 211 a week earlier. Cases have also risen nationwide in the past week, according to the New York Timesbut not so fast.
Hospital admissions in Maine have not yet seen a similar increase. As of Friday, 101 people were hospitalized with the virus in Maine, 18 of whom were in emergency beds and four in ventilators.