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’s COVID-19 hospitalizations have slipped below 200 for the first time since October 2021.

It’s a milestone that further suggests the virus is somewhat weakening its grip on the state after the omicron variant fueled a massive uptick in infections over the winter.

There are now 191 Mainers infected with the virus in hospitals across the state as of Thursday morning, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s down from 211 the day before and down from the pandemic high of 436 set on Jan. 13.

Overall, hospitalizations have fallen more than 56 percent from that high mark, and it’s the first time they have fallen below 200 since Oct. 30, 2021, and the lowest they have been since Oct. 17, when 189 Mainers were hospitalized, state data show.

Additionally, there are 42 Mainers in critical care and 15 on ventilators.

Hospitalizations have increasingly been relied upon as a barometer for the strength of the virus here as Maine deals with a large backlog of positive cases, which have made the daily count a less reliable indicator.

Still, even now more Mainers are hospitalized than at any other time between March 12, 2020, when the first coronavirus case was confirmed here and last October.