New report shows omicron spreads in Maine as hospitalizations rise

The omicron variant is spreading in Maine, but accounted for less than 10% of positive COVID-19 cases detected at the end of last month by the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, according to new data released Monday.

Meanwhile, the number of COVID-19 patients in Maine hospitals fell from 340 on Sunday to 369 on Monday, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The number of people in intensive care fell slightly from 119 to 113, and the number of ventilators fell from 57 to 54.

The omicron variant – which is much more transmissible but may be less severe than earlier variants – accounted for 8.75% of samples sequenced by Jackson Laboratory, according to a report released Monday that covered the week of Dec. 19-25, with omicron detected in seven of the 80 samples.

Omicron represented 5.51% of the samples the week of December 12-18 and 1.04% the week before.

The initial version of the December 12-18 report, released on December 27, showed 10.45 percent of the samples to be omicron, but this was revised down to 5.51 percent after the arrival of more samples and a lower percentage tested positive for the variant. The original Dec.12-18 report included 67 samples, but Monday’s report listed this week has been revised to include 127 samples.

The highly transmissible omicron variant is taking over in many places in the United States, including New York and Washington, DC, after causing huge spikes in cases in South Africa, the United Kingdom and others country.

A resulting spike in omicron cases in many states is creating staff shortages and leading to increased hospitalizations, although the number of hospitals is not growing as quickly as infections.

Omicron may be less serious for adults, but cause more health problems for young children, former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CBS News on Sunday. “It now appears, based on a lot of experimental evidence we’ve obtained over the past two weeks, that this is a milder form of the coronavirus,” Gottlieb said on Face the Nation. “It seems to be more of an upper respiratory disease than a lower respiratory disease. It’s good for most Americans. The only group where this can be a problem is very young children – toddlers – who have problems with upper respiratory tract infections. “

This story will be updated.

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