A man walks toward the main entrance at St. Joseph's Hospital in Bangor the morning of April 22, 2020. Credit: Natalie Williams / BDN

The number of patients hospitalized with coronavirus in Maine fell to the lowest level since early November, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported Monday.

The long-awaited decline came quickly with hospitalizations falling by more than 50 percent in two weeks, following a similar decline in infections as 3 out of 5 Mainers have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. It also marks a turn in the state’s virus trajectory after hospitalizations rose earlier this spring despite a vaccination rate that is among the highest in the nation.

As of Monday, 58 patients were hospitalized with the virus in Maine, down from 120 two weeks ago and 131 a month ago. It is the first time that fewer than 60 patients have been hospitalized with coronavirus here since Nov. 12, 2020.

The drop in cases has largely been uniform across the state. At Central Maine Medical Center, 20 people were hospitalized with the virus as of Friday. The number of daily inpatients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 peaked there in early May, when more than 30 people were hospitalized as Androscoggin County saw a higher infection rate than the rest of the state.

MaineHealth, which operates seven inpatient hospitals across the state, has seen declines across its facilities, a spokesperson said. As of last Thursday, 15 people were hospitalized at Maine Medical Center in Portland, down from 22 a week earlier.

The decline in hospitalizations aligns Maine with a national trend after the state initially lagged while hospitalizations decreased elsewhere. Nationwide, the number of patients admitted to the hospital for COVID-19 has declined steadily since mid-April, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In Vermont, one of the few states to maintain a lower infection rate than Maine throughout the pandemic, just one person was hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Monday, according to the state’s health department.

COVID-19 hospitalizations in Maine still remain higher than last summer, when the daily number dropped into the single digits. Hospitalizations in Maine rose sharply in the early winter, peaking in January at more than 200. They declined steadily in February and early March but rose again in April as infections remained stubbornly high despite the state’s vaccine rollout.

Older Mainers have still been the most likely to be hospitalized with severe COVID-19 and make up the majority of deaths, although the Maine CDC reported the first COVID-19 death in a person under the age of 20 last week.