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Health

18 more die and 1,325 new coronavirus cases reported in Maine on Wednesday

Virus Outbreak Maine
Robert F. Bukaty
/
AP
A instructor teaches volunteers about patient forms used at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Augusta Armory, Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021, in Augusta, Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

Maine is reporting 1,325 new cases of the coronavirus on Wednesday.

The state CDC is reporting 18 additional deaths from COVID-19. 333 people were hospitalized with the disease in Maine on Tuesday, including 110 in critical care and 56 on ventilators.

Maine's COVID-19 positivity rate has jumped to 12.1%. The state is in the midst of a surge in new cases, but health officials said the spike in the positivity rate is the result of a decrease in testing. Part of that is due to a drop in demand during the recent holiday, and part of it is because of a lack of supply. But Maine Health Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew said there may soon be more resources.

"We continue to explore all options. I think we'll have some news, hopefully next week, on some new testing sites in Maine," Lambrew said.

The Biden administration announced last week it would set up pop-up testing sites in states with high demand.

And the highly contagious omicron variant gains a stronger foothold in the U.S., some medical experts say it's time to ditch cloth masks in favor of surgical masks or KN95's. Maine CDC Director Nirav Shah said he's increasingly leaning towards that view.

"As we learn more about omicron and how quickly it can be transmitted, upgrading your masks, if you haven't done so already, is something to start thinking about," Shah said.

Surgical and KN95 masks are better than cloth at blocking out virus particles, which some experts say is more important than ever with omicron.