– Several indications of a steep fall in COVID-19 in Maine
– Several indications of a steep fall in COVID-19 in Maine

– Several indications of a steep fall in COVID-19 in Maine

The number of untreated positive tests continues to decline in Maine, with only 75 tests reported to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday, according to data released by the health agency on Tuesday.

It is a sharp downturn compared to when about 2,500 to 3,500 positive tests flooded in Maine CDC on a daily basis in early to mid-January, when the omicron wave was at its peak. Last week, untreated positive tests hovered in the range of 300 to 400 a day. Other indications of the ebb of the Maine pandemic include declining hospitalizations and a sharp drop in the level of viruses found in sewage in cities and towns across the state.

Maine on Tuesday reported a further death from COVID-19, adding 1,182 more confirmed cases in the first three-day update. Confirmed cases do not reflect current trends because Maine is working through a backlog from when the omicron wave overwhelmed the Maine CDC’s ability to process positive tests. Since mid-February, the agency switched to a partially automated process to review the backlog and be able to process tests in a timely manner if there is another sudden wave of cases.

Since the pandemic began, Maine has recorded 227,332 cases and 2,065 deaths.

Admissions are not yet updated for Tuesday, however stood at 168 on Monday, representing a steep drop from the top of 436 on January 13th.

Meanwhile, Maine is the only state in New England that has not set a date to recommend when masking may become optional in schools or remove an indoor mask mandate. Governors of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island and Connecticut have either already made masking optional in schools, or the date for masks to become optional is coming soon, but the Mills administration has not yet decided.

The Maine CDC does not impose a policy on schools, but currently recommends indoor masking in schools, though government agency is currently reviewing the latest guidelines from the US CDC. The federal health agency issued new guidelines last week that recommended masks optional in about 70 percent of the state, but most of Maine did not qualify. But Maine’s artificially high number of cases distorts the formula used by the US CDC to make masking recommendations.

Some Maine districts, particularly in central Maine, are beginning to lift mask mandates, while others are awaiting Maine CDC guidelines.

“We’re all in a team pattern right now, we’re just waiting,” said York Superintendent Lou Goscinski, adding that he remains committed to following the guidelines of the Maine CDC and the State Department of Education.

“There’s a lot of pressure to make masks optional,” Goscinski said. He predicted that more schools will begin to deviate from the guidelines if the state CDC maintains its current recommendation on mandatory masking.

This story will be updated.

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