Little respite for providers at Central Maine Medical Center as hospitalizations remain high


Medical staff at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston treated at least 15 COVID-19 hospital patients per day for 70 consecutive days. Andree Kehn / Journal of the Sun

LEWISTON – Statewide COVID-19 hospitalizations broke new record Friday as Central Maine Medical Center providers treated at least 15 COVID-19 hospital patients – and often more – every day for 70 consecutive days .

State health officials reported that 391 people with the virus were in hospitals in Maine on Friday, surpassing the previous record of 387 inpatients set on December 21 of last year. Of those hospitalized on Friday, 110 were in intensive care and 59 on a ventilator.

In the largest hospital in central Maine, the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 remains at a high level. As of Thursday, 29 people were hospitalized at the CMMC, including nine in the intensive care unit and five on a ventilator, according to hospital data.

CMMC providers treated an average of 26 patients per day during the seven-day period ending Thursday. The last time the seven-day average for COVID hospital patients at CMMC fell below 20 was on November 4, 2021. The average was 19.7 for the previous seven-day period.

At this point in the pandemic, hospitalization data provides epidemiologists with the most ‘granular’ picture of how the virus travels and evolves within a community, said Dr Nirav Shah, director of Maine. Center for Disease Control & Prevention, at Wednesday’s press conference.

“The metrics that tell us more day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month are less the daily changes in the number of cases and more and more what we know about hospitalization, the fraction of patients hospitalized who are in intensive care and the fraction of those patients who are on ventilators, ”he said.

He also noted that 70% of people hospitalized statewide on Wednesday were not fully immunized.

Shah has previously said that the percentage of unvaccinated people in intensive care units or on ventilators tends to be higher, sometimes over 90%.

Meanwhile, more people are testing positive for COVID than ever before, as measured by the PCR positivity rate, which is the percentage of positivity from all molecular and antigen tests reported to the state. This includes laboratory-confirmed molecular tests and rapid antigen tests performed at pharmacies or other locations that are required to report positive results to the Maine CDC.

As of Friday, the seven-day PCR positive rate for Maine had reached 18.4%.

“This is by far the highest on record in Maine throughout the pandemic, and tracks what our regional neighbors are also seeing in terms of positivity rates,” Shah said at the briefing. The seven-day PCR positive rate on Wednesday was 18.05%.

He added that the volume of tests remains high: On Friday, the state carried out an average of 685 PCR tests per 100,000 residents per day in the past seven days.

“This is another way of saying that what is driving things like the positivity rate right now is the number of positives being reported each day, not a contraction in the number of tests that are happening,” Shah said. .

Omicron is probably the cause of the increased positivity rate. Although officially omicron accounts for about 9% of all new cases in Maine, “we know this is an undercoverage,” Shah said.

“Indeed, probably a dramatic undercoverage,” he said.


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