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 risen 47 percent over the past 10 days.

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 221 Mainers infected with the virus in hospitals across the state as of Thursday morning, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s up from 209 the day before and up from 150 just 10 days earlier.

It’s the highest Maine’s hospitalizations have been since Feb. 22 as they were falling off sharply from the peak set during the winter’s omicron-fueled surge in infections.

Of those, 31 people are in critical care and two on ventilators.

Despite the renewed surge in cases and hospitalizations, the situation in Maine is not as dire as during the peak of winter, when more than 430 Mainers were hospitalized at one point with the virus and the Maine CDC was swamped with a backlog of positive cases.

Even those Mainers requiring ventilators make up just 0.9 percent of current hospitalizations, a much lower share than the 10 percent to 20 percent seen in earlier phases of the pandemic. That tracks with suggestions from experts that the newer omicron subvariants cause less severe hospitalizations despite being more contagious.

On Thursday, the Maine CDC reported another 1,001 infections and two deaths across the state. The rising rate of infection has prompted a limited return to masking in places such as Bangor and Portland, where they are required again in schools, government buildings and the city’s public bus system.