In this Jan 20, 2022, file photo. a person wearing scrubs and a mask walks up a ramp at Maine Medical Center in Portland. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

Maine’s COVID-19 hospitalizations are down almost 60 percent from their pandemic high.

It’s the latest spot of bright news as hospitalizations continue their weekslong slide, and perhaps further evidence that COVID-19 is loosening its grip again as winter nears its close.

There are now 181 Mainers infected with the virus in hospitals across the state as of Friday morning, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s down from 191 the day before and down 58.5 percent from the pandemic high of 436, set on Jan. 13.

That’s the lowest those numbers have been since Oct. 16, 2021, when 167 Mainers were hospitalized with COVID-19, state data show.

Additionally, there are 39 Mainers in critical care and 14 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 from the winter’s omicron-fueled surge. That’s made the daily count a less reliable indicator of the severity of the virus here.

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