There were 85 additional COVID-19 cases reported in Knox County during the past day, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported Wednesday, Feb. 16. But that increase is the result of the CDC catching up on its backlog of processing case data.

The Maine CDC has said deaths and hospitalizations were a better metric to use than case numbers.

There have been no additional deaths in Knox County in the past 22 days. In that same period, one additional Knox County resident has been hospitalized due to the virus.

Since the pandemic began in Maine in March 2020, 4,945 Knox County residents have been diagnosed with the virus, 71 have been admitted to hospitals, and 22 have died.

Statewide, an additional 3,556 cases were reported in the past day, but again that is due to catching up with the backlog in processing the cases for public data. There were nine additional deaths reported statewide Feb. 16, increasing the number to 1,858.

There were eight additional people statewide admitted to hospitals in Maine with COVID-19 in the past day, increasing that number to 4,188 since the pandemic began in March 2020. That is one of the fewest number of new admissions in several months.

Hospitalizations of Maine residents continue to decline. The CDC reports 260 Mainers currently in the hospital, down from a record high of 436 in early January. Of the 260 hospitalized, 64 are in critical care units and 27 on ventilators. Forty-three critical care beds are available in Maine. These hospitalization numbers are the lowest since early November.

Seventy percent of hospitalized patients are people who have not been vaccinated, and 90 percent of people in critical care units are unvaccinated.

Eighty-two percent of the eligible population in Knox County has been fully vaccinated. Statewide, 77 percent of the eligible population has been fully vaccinated, ranging from a low of 63 percent in Somerset County to 88 percent in Cumberland County.

Medical leaders across the state continue to say the spread is being fueled by people who have not been vaccinated.

Health officials continue to urge people to wear masks in indoor public places and to get vaccinated, including booster shots. Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah said surgical masks, N95s and KN95s are more suitable for protection against the more transmissible Omicron variant of the virus than plain cloth masks.