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Maryland reports 543 new coronavirus cases, seven deaths; Hopkins positivity rate still above 6%

Maryland reported 543 new cases of the coronavirus Friday along with seven more deaths tied to COVID-19, the disease the virus causes, as the Johns Hopkins University continues to report a positivity rate above 6%.

Friday’s new batch of data put the state at a total of 119,062 confirmed infections and 3,724 deaths since March. The state has reported single-digit death counts in 13 out of the last 14 days.

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Maryland’s seven-day positivity rate — which calculates the percentage of positive tests over a weeklong time frame -— was 3.21%, down from Thursday’s 3.33% mark.

That means Maryland has reported a seven-day testing positivity rate below 4% every day since Aug. 8 and under 5% since June 26.

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The 5% figure is pertinent because the World Health Organization recommends governments see 14 consecutive days with rates below 5% before beginning reopening measures. Maryland has been below that figure for close to three months, but began its reopening before getting under the 5% mark.

But as of Thursday, Johns Hopkins' coronavirus resource center reported Maryland’s testing positivity rate to be close to double the state’s measure at 6.3%, the 11th straight day it has exceeded 6%. The university records testing positivity differently than the state, using the number of people tested as opposed to the total number of tests. While the state’s reported positivity rate has steadily dropped since it was at 4.6% Aug. 1, Hopkins' number has been trending up since early September.

According to Hopkins, Maryland’s testing positivity rate is the 22nd-highest among states.

Maryland has the 12th-most deaths among states per capita from the virus and the 22nd-most confirmed cases, according to data through Thursday from Hopkins’ coronavirus resource center. Maryland officials warned Wednesday that it could be six to eight months until a vaccine be distributed, in a best-case scenario.

Active hospitalizations have fallen steadily since Aug. 1, when that figure was at 602. Now, it is at 347, down from Thursday’s 353. Among those reported currently hospitalized, 84 were in intensive care, up one from Thursday, which marked the fewest number ICU cases since March 29.

The total number of Maryland residents hospitalized since March surpassed 15,000 Thursday.

The pandemic continues to disproportionately affect Black and Hispanic communities in Maryland — a trend mirrored nationwide. Five of the seven residents whose deaths were reported Friday were Black, one was white and the other was Hispanic. Six of the seven people who died were 70 or older, with no data available for the seventh.

Of the confirmed cases reported Friday, 169 were among Black residents and 82 among Hispanic residents, or about 55% of the 463 total new cases reported Friday in which race was known.

White residents make up 58% of Maryland’s population but were just 41% of new infections reported Friday in which race data is known and are just 29% of the state’s overall caseload in which race data is known.

Black residents represent about 38% of the state’s caseload in which race is known, despite representing about half the proportion of the population compared to white residents. Hispanic residents make up about 10% of the state’s population but represent nearly 26% of the state’s caseload in which race is known.

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