xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Maryland reports 1,758 new coronavirus cases, 31 deaths following Christmas holiday weekend

December is ending on a mixed note when it comes to the coronavirus: a record number of new cases, with a possible spike looming — and a promising start to the state’s vaccination program.

Maryland health officials reported 1,758 new COVID-19 cases and 31 more deaths Sunday following the Christmas holiday weekend.

Advertisement

Amid such grim numbers, a more hopeful metric: An additional 1,028 people have been vaccinated.

With four days remaining in 2020, this month has already seen the highest number of new cases — 67,070 — since the pandemic began in Maryland, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

Advertisement

And it could soon worsen. Even as health officials cautioned against in-person gatherings this Christmas, more Marylanders boarded flights out of the Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport last week than any other point since mid-March. Experts predict a spike in transmissions and new cases to result.

Maryland is one of 48 states with positivity rates above 5%. The World Health Organization advises governments to lift COVID-19 restrictions only after positivity rates have reached 5% or lower for two weeks.

The state’s testing positivity rate is 7.48%, an increase of nearly .4% from the day before, according to data from the Maryland Department of Health. The Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, which measures positivity rates differently than Maryland, reported a 5.5% positivity rate for the virus in the state. Hopkins also reports a positivity rate of 38.8% in neighboring Pennsylvania, while Virginia is currently at around 11%.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, touted the state’s relatively low positivity in an appearance Sunday morning on CNN’s State of the Union and stated he was “pleased” by what had taken place here.

In the same segment, Hogan urged Republican President Donald Trump to sign into law a $900 billion coronavirus relief package passed by Congress. “Sign the bill, get it done,” said Hogan, who also appeared on ABC’s “This Week.”

The disease caused by the virus has led to well over 25,000 total hospitalizations since March, when the state health department began tracking its spread. As of Sunday, 1,692 people were hospitalized with complications associated with COVID-19, an increase by 7 from the day before.

Overall, Maryland has seen 267,198 confirmed cases of the coronavirus since the pandemic began and at least 5,545 deaths. An additional 167 people are presumed to have died from the illness.

In the first phase of the vaccine distribution, nearly 20,000 Marylanders have received their first dose. Recipients include front line health care workers, first responders and residents and staff at long-term care facilities.

The state currently has acquired nearly 200,000 doses of the vaccine, with just over half that number from Moderna and the rest from drug company Pfizer. Places like nursing homes and assisted living facilities will receive doses through a federal pharmacy partnership with CVS and Walgreens.

Hogan has activated the state’s National Guard to support vaccine distribution, which he has called a “turning point” in the fight against the virus.

“We are able to see the sun rising on the horizon — even if that horizon may still seem a little distant right now,” Hogan said in a statement.

Advertisement

Though just a small fraction of the Baltimore region has been vaccinated thus far, the number is expected to grow exponentially in the new year as production accelerates. The next phase of vaccination will target people who are at “significantly higher risk” of getting very sick from COVID-19

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement