In this Dec. 8, 2021, file photo, nurse Cassandra Pateneaude treats a patient in the hallway of the Maine Medical Center emergency department. Credit: Courtesy of MaineHealth

Maine saw COVID-19 hospitalizations continue their steep slide on Tuesday, falling more than 5 percent in the previous 24 hours.

That news comes as another 10,968 COVID-19 cases were reported Tuesday, a jump due to a deep backlog of positive cases that currently makes the daily count a less reliable indicator of the virus’ impact in Maine.

There are now 260 Mainers infected with COVID-19 hospitalized across the state, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s down from 275 the day before and the pandemic high of 436 set on Jan. 13.

That’s down more than 40 percent from the record high, and it’s the lowest number of COVID-19 hospitalizations Maine has seen since Nov. 15, 2021, when that stood at 261, state data show.

Fewer Mainers also are in critical care and on ventilators — 64 and 27, respectively. Those are down markedly from their record highs of 133 and 68, respectively.

With tens of thousands of backlogged positive cases driving up Maine’s daily count, the falling hospitalization numbers, though much higher than those seen last summer, are seen as an indicator that COVID-19 may be loosening its grip on the state.

That’s not the only indicator that the virus’ spread is coming under control. The daily average for positive COVID-19 tests fell to 1,057 last week, down from 1,165 the week before. Meanwhile, wastewater monitoring also suggests that the virus’ spread is declining across the state.