The Northern Light Health drive-through COVID testing site near Bangor International Airport. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

AUGUSTA, Maine — Coronavirus-related hospitalizations in Maine rose again on Friday, even as a temporary drop in testing and reporting over the Thanksgiving holiday may lead to a artificial drop in the number of new reported cases this weekend.

The spread of the virus in Maine has spiked over the past month, with the seven-day average of new cases rising to 221 on Thursday, up from only 40 one month earlier. But the Thanksgiving closure of the state lab that processes tests led to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention not reporting case data on Friday.

Cases reported usually reflect investigations and tests processed the day before. Maine reported updated hospitalization data on Friday, with the number of patients currently hospitalized with the virus rising to 119, up from 105 on Wednesday. Fifty-one patients are in critical care, while 15 are on ventilators.

The state will update case figures again on Saturday, encompassing positive tests from both Thursday and Friday. While those numbers could show an artificial spike due to lack of reporting on Friday, most testing locations were also closed on Thursday, so numbers could remain low through the weekend due to the temporary dip in testing.

State health officials advised Mainers to be cautious over the holidays due to the increased prevalence of the virus. Any spread of the virus connected to travel would likely not be seen for at least a week due to the incubation period of the virus and the time needed for testing.