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What contact tracing is telling us about where Marylanders may be getting the coronavirus

The recent uptick in COVID-19 among young adults has placed added attention on bars and other gatherings that serve as feeder points for the spread of the coronavirus.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Wednesday afternoon provided insight into where Marylanders may be contracting the virus.

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The Republican governor shared statistics obtained from contact tracing, showing that among individuals reached who tested positive for COVID-19, 44% attended a family gathering, 23% attended a house party and 21% attended an outdoor event.

Hogan himself admitted to what he called a “false sense of security when you’re spending time with family and friends.”

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“Even I am guilty of this,” Hogan said. “I had my daughters and sons-in-law and four grandkids over, sitting in a room, watching movies with the kids without masks. Eating popcorn, hanging out, eating dinner, not thinking that my granddaughter is going to camp, daughters and sons-in-law are going to work, and we could have been spreading the virus.

“The reality is you can just as easily get this virus just by going to work, in an office, or just by attending a backyard barbeque or hanging out with a group of family.”

Hogan shared additional higher-risk locations for the spread of the coronavirus. Recent interviews with COVID-19 patients showed that 54% of individuals worked outside their homes. 39% shopped at retail stores and 23% dined indoors. An additional 23% of individuals contacted also dined outdoors at a restaurant.

According to the data, health care workers have made up 25% of COVID-19 cases from those interviews. Individuals working in offices with nonpublic-facing jobs have made up 23% of cases, those with public-facing jobs — personal services, retail — made up 13% of cases, and people working in restaurants and food services made up 12% of cases.

“We cannot say with specificity exactly how they got the virus or where they got the virus,” Hogan said, “but these are commonalities and they are significant and important tools for our science- and data-driven response efforts.”

Health officials on Wednesday confirmed 761 new cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, and 20 more deaths. Wednesday’s update also marks the most hospitalizations in more than a month. Hogan on Wednesday said the state would not move into Phase III reopenings until it was “prudent” to do so, but he also did not say he would reimpose restrictions on operations such as indoor dining or retail shopping.

Hogan also issued an order expanding mask-wearing restrictions and advising against travel to certain states. Effective at 5 p.m. Friday, everyone older than 5 must wear masks in all indoor public buildings, including restaurants, houses of worship, gyms, casinos, stores and office buildings. Masks also will now be required outdoors whenever it is not possible to maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet from others.

Hogan also is issuing a health advisory cautioning Maryland residents not to travel to states that have more than 10% positive cases. States currently covered are Florida, Texas, Georgia, Louisiana, Arizona, Alabama, South Carolina, Nebraska and Idaho.

Anyone who does travel to those states is encouraged to get a coronavirus test and quarantine until receiving results.

Baltimore Sun reporters Pamela Wood, Jeff Barker and Phil Davis contributed to this article.

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