In this Dec. 28, 2021, file photo, a sign on a Portland shop window advises customers masks are required for entry. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

Maine has the nation’s highest COVID-19 infection rate as the state reported more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday.

Maine has reported 372 cases per 100,000 residents over the past seven days, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Rhode Island and Vermont closely follow with 337.6 and 332.7 cases per 100,000 residents, respectively.

That comes as a surge in cases accompanying the spread of the so-called stealth omicron variant — BA.2 — gains a foothold in Maine, erasing for the moment gains the state made in reducing hospitalizations since the winter.

There are now also 169 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 up from 162 the day before and 116 on April 24.

That’s a 46 percent increase, data show. It’s also the highest point hospitalizations have reached in Maine since late February, when they were on a rapid slide down from the peak set during the winter omicron surge.