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Coronavirus

Maryland adds 24,800 reinfections to COVID-19 dashboard as state approaches 1 million cases

Maryland health officials confirmed Wednesday what many Marylanders learned the hard way — thousands of people are being reinfected with COVID-19 since the omicron variant emerged.

The Maryland Department of Health said it now counts 24,800 such infections among the total cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, in its public dashboard.

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The dashboard shows the state is approaching a major milestone — 1 million confirmed cases — though the tally is likely far higher, as many people are not tested or have taken at-home rapid tests, the results of which aren’t included in the state’s count. There were 481 new cases reported Wednesday, bringing the total to 994,577.

Public health officials have found that the omicron variant that now dominates cases is far more contagious and more likely to break through vaccine protections. The vaccines, officials say, still are working as intended, preventing severe cases that require hospitalization or cause death.

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The 24,800 reinfections reported Wednesday date to late September, state officials said, a couple of months before the omicron variant was detected.

About 740 reinfections already were included in the state’s overall tally, “but were not highlighted due to the low number relative to overall cases,” a health department spokesman said.

Maryland counts a case as a reinfection if the person has not had a positive COVID-19 test within the past 90 days, the health department said.

Generally, cases are plummeting from the pandemic high in mid-January and leading to an end to mask mandates around the state.

There are now 677 people hospitalized, less than a fifth of the Jan. 11 peak of close to 3,500, state data shows. About 3.5% of the tests performed in the state are positive, below the 5% considered the unacceptable level of spread of the virus.

State leaders are still encouraging people to be vaccinated, as there is no predicting if and when another variant begins circulating and health officials say the shots and booster shots are considered the best protection.


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