Maryland health officials reported 1,047 new COVID-19 infections Thursday, the first time since April the state has recorded more than 1,000 cases in a day, as hospitalizations surged more than 22% since Monday.
Before Thursday, the last time the state recorded more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases was April 28, according to health department data.
As of Thursday, Maryland averaged 692 new infections daily for the last two weeks. It averaged 77 cases daily over the two weeks ending July 12.
The state said 490 people were hospitalized with the coronavirus as of Thursday, the first time since May 22 that so many people with the respiratory illness occupied hospital beds. On Monday, 400 people were hospitalized.
Cases and hospitalizations were declining in late April and May, but now, as the highly contagious delta variant spreads, both are surging.
Deaths, however, have dropped off steadily as more and more Marylanders have been vaccinated, which reduces the risk of severe illness should one still contract the virus.
Over the last 14 days, Maryland averaged four coronavirus fatalities a day. As recently as the end of May, the two week average was regularly 10 or more casualties daily. The two-week rate on Dec. 24 was 44 deaths daily.
But the U.S. Centers for Disease Control map for community transmission continues to show more virus spread in Maryland.
Carroll County is now the state’s only jurisdiction that the CDC says has a “moderate” level of community transmission. Every other locality in the state has what the CDC defines as “substantial” or “high” community spread.
Within the last 48 hours, the federal agency’s graphic evolved to show more counties in the state have reached high community transmission.
Allegany, Cecil, Charles, Dorchester, Frederick, Prince George’s, Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester counties are all colored red on the map, indicating high virus spread.
The state’s stagnating vaccination campaign continues to creep closer to fully inoculating 60% of Marylanders against COVID-19.
Health experts, concerned about the summer surge and the delta variant, have said the most effective way to curtail the rising numbers is for more residents to get vaccinated and to wear masks while indoors in public places.
According to CDC guidance, residents of every Maryland jurisdiction except Carroll County should be masking indoors considering the level of community transmission.
Currently, only Baltimore City and Prince George’s and Montgomery counties are requiring face coverings indoors.
Anne Arundel County requires masks inside government buildings. Baltimore County and Howard County — which boasts the highest vaccination rate in the state — are following suit, with county facility mask mandates taking effect Friday and Saturday, respectively.
In a statement, Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. described the mandate as a “commonsense step” to protect county employees and those who visit the buildings.
“I thank our dedicated employees for helping us keep each other, our loved ones, and our community safe,” Olszewski said. “We continue to closely monitor key metrics and the advice of scientific experts and remain committed to taking whatever steps are necessary to protect public health.”