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Maryland’s coronavirus positivity rate drops again as state adds 416 cases

Maryland officials confirmed 416 new cases of coronavirus and 23 more deaths Friday as the indicators show an easing of the pandemic.

The latest report pushes the state cumulative case total to 60,613 and the death toll to 2,773 since the pandemic began.

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Hospitalizations for the coronavirus dropped again for the 16th day in a row to 836 people, with 331 in intensive care. Gov. Larry Hogan has said officials are watching these metrics and the statewide testing positivity rate in deciding when to roll back restrictions put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The positivity rate fell to 6.94% Friday — down from 7.25% on Thursday, officials said. The state has conducted a total of 473,271 tests, of which 339,482 have come back negative, officials said.

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The United States, however, is still reporting close to 1,000 deaths a day, about a quarter of the daily deaths across the world.

“The fight against this virus is far from over,” Hogan said in a statement Friday. “In fact, now more than ever, as we begin to come into contact with more people, we must all continue to remain vigilant. Our health and economic recovery depends on all of us continuing to exercise personal responsibility in order to keep ourselves, our family members, our neighbors, and our coworkers, safe.”

Hogan’s comments came as he lifts more restrictions in a effort to jump start the economy. Starting Friday, restaurants were permitted to open for limited indoor dining, and amusement parks and similar facilities could resume operations.

One of Hogan’s top public health advisers, Dr. Tom Inglesby, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said Thursday that the state’s cases are “moving in the right direction” but are not yet low enough.

Inglesby said he does not agree with Hogan’s decision to end certain limits on indoor gatherings. And he fears the protests over the death of George Floyd in police custody, which he said he supports, will lead to a spike in cases.

“I’m kind of worried people have kind of accepted where we are as the new normal, and it’s not normal,” Inglesby said. “We still have time to improve our capabilities.”

The virus continues to disproportionately affect African American and Latino communities. As of Friday, the state’s African American population had 17,449 cases with 1,133 confirmed deaths. Hispanic Marylanders account for 16,293 cases and 273 confirmed deaths. Both demographics combined constitute roughly 40% of the state’s population.

Baltimore Sun reporter Meredith Cohn contributed to this article.

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