Hospitalizations for COVID-19 equal Maine's peak during pandemic

·2 min read

Sep. 19—The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported 207 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide on Sunday, equaling the record high set on Jan. 13.

Seventy-nine of those people were in intensive care and 32 on ventilators. The number of ICU patients is also a record for the pandemic, surpassing Friday's 76 and Saturday's 77.

The intensive care numbers are "a record no one wanted to set again," said Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine CDC.

"With shortages of treatments, ... not being vaccinated is risky," he said on Twitter Sunday.

By treatments, Shah was referring to monoclonal antibodies, which are lab-grown proteins that attack COVID-19. The treatment is in increased use among the general public — former President Donald Trump got special access to it last year when he fell ill with COVID-19 — but supplies are too short to handle the surge alone.

On Sunday, Maine hospitals had 59 intensive care unit beds available of a total 343, and 196 ventilators available of 295.

The Maine CDC isn't releasing full coronavirus data, including new case numbers, on Sundays. But the agency lately has been updating hospital capacity statistics.

Meanwhile, an ongoing staffing crisis is draining long-term care facilities even as the surge hits record levels. Homes such as Somerset Rehabilitation and Living Center in Bingham have announced they'll close down due to lack of staff.

The crisis in long-term living is shifting the burden of care onto hospitals, which are facing their own staffing issues, as well as an overwhelming number of patients from the general public. MaineGeneral Medical Center in Augusta regularly has 20 to 30 patients each day that it must discharge due to lack of capacity, officials there said last week.

Maine's test positivity rates have increased in recent months, landing at 5.1 percent toward the end of last week. Some hospital officials have warned that, because of pervasive and repetitive testing in schools of the same uninfected subjects, the real rate of positivity for the general public may be higher.

Around the nation, the seven-day average of test positivity was 8.7 percent for the week ending Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University.

As of early Sunday evening, the United States had recorded 42 million cases of COVID-19 and 673,735 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. Around the world, there have been 228.4 million cases and 4.68 million deaths, according to Johns Hopkins' virus tracker.

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