By The Associated Press

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — The number of patients in intensive care units in Maine hospitals has tied the pandemic’s previous high as the delta variant of the coronavirus continues to surge.

The number of COVID-19 patients in the ICU hit 71 on Friday, tying the previous high on Jan. 20 in Maine after a holiday surge in infections.

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The delta variant, which accounts for virtually all coronavirus infections in Maine, is more contagious than earlier strains of the virus and it’s also more likely to cause serious illness in unvaccinated individuals, health officials say.

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Statewide, 143 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Friday and 31 of the 71 people in the ICU required ventilators, the Maine Center for Disease Control reported.

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