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 continued their steep slide, falling 70 percent in the last two months.

It’s the latest evidence that COVID-19 is loosening its grip as winter nears its close, and hospitalizations have increasingly been relied upon as a barometer for the strength of the virus here.

There are now 131 Mainers infected with the virus in hospitals across the state as of Wednesday morning, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s down from 143 the day before and down from the pandemic high of 436, set on Jan. 13.

That’s a 70 percent fall, and the lowest hospitalizations have been since Aug. 25, 2021, when 125 Mainers were hospitalized with the virus, state data show.

Of those, 29 Mainers are in critical care and another 10 are on ventilators.

Even as falling hospitalizations offer a bright spot of news nearly two years into the pandemic, hospitalizations remain higher than most of 2020 and late winter and summer 2021. At this time last year, just 75 Mainers were hospitalized with the virus.