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Health

Maine hospitals say the current COVID surge is the worst since the pandemic began

Virus Oiutbreak Maine
Robert F. Bukaty
/
AP
Master Sgt. Ryan Jones of the Maine National Guard takes part in orientation at Central Maine Medical Center, Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021, in Lewiston, Maine. The Guard will work as nursing assistants, helping to open a swing bed unit of the hospital that has been closed due to a nursing shortage.

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 are on the rise again, with 411 people hospitalized Wednesday. 102 people are in critical care, and 53 are on ventilators.

Hospital officials in Maine say the situation they're facing is the worst it's been since the start of the pandemic. Dr. Dora Anne Mills of MaineHealth says a surge of COVID patients combined with sick staff who are unable to work is straining capacity. She says break rooms are being converted into patient rooms and some patients are being treated in hallways.

"Every single space that could appropriately be used for patients, is being used for patients," Mills says.

Officials at Northern Light Health say there are currently about three dozen patients at smaller hospitals in its service area who need a higher level of care but can't transferred because larger hospitals don't have beds available.

"And they have no place for them to go right now and that is alarming that we have that many people that are waiting for a higher level of care that we cannot meet demand for," says Dr. James Jarvis of Norther Light Health.

The Maine CDC is reporting 2,083 new cases of the coronavirus since the holiday weekend. That includes data from Saturday through Tuesday. The state is also reporting 30 additional deaths of people with the disease.