Continuing a surge, Maryland reported 1,410 new coronavirus cases Saturday and six deaths tied to COVID-19, the disease the virus causes.
Since the end of September, the two-week average of daily new cases in Maryland has spiked from 488 on Sept. 30 to 959 as of Saturday, rapidly approaching a pandemic high of 1,031 from May.
Saturday’s new case total is the second highest reported since May, when the virus was at its peak. It’s the fourth-highest single day total during the pandemic, trailing only Friday and two days in May.
Saturday was the fourth straight day reporting at least 1,000 virus cases after not doing so since Aug. 1.
Hospitalizations also hit the highest total since late June. Maryland reported 632 people hospitalized Saturday, up from 609 the day before, with hospitalizations more than doubling since late September. Rising hospitalizations have been some experts' biggest concern statewide.
Among those hospitalized, 153 needed intensive care, up one from 152 Friday. ICU hospitalizations have more than doubled since they were at 68 in late September.
Deaths and hospitalizations are considered to be indicators that can lag behind an increase in cases, as it can take days or weeks for patients to die or for symptoms to worsen.
“As the coronavirus surges in states across the nation, we are monitoring concerning increases in several of our key metrics,” Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, said in a tweet thread Saturday. “While our risk level is not as high as many other states, we cannot afford to let our guard down. Our ability to weather this storm effectively will depend on the actions each of us takes in the days and weeks ahead. Wear a mask, wash your hands, watch your distance.”
The new numbers bring the state to a total of 152,915 cases and 4,052 deaths since March. Maryland has recorded the 17th-most deaths and the 33rd-most cases per capita among states, according to data from Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus resource center.
The new numbers come after Hogan called Thursday for stricter enforcement by local jurisdictions of COVID-19 restrictions and said the state was at a pivotal point in fighting the virus.
Baltimore announced Friday that it is limiting indoor and outdoor gatherings at all facilities, including restaurants and religious establishments, to 25% capacity, among other increased restrictions. The city ordered all bars not serving food to close. The city also mandated masks be worn at all times in public.
The city added the most cases of any jurisdiction Saturday at 241.
The city’s case rate per 100,000 residents has nearly tripled in about three weeks, going from 7.87 as of Oct. 16, below the statewide average, to 23.44 Friday, well above the statewide average. During that time, the city’s positivity rate has soared from 2.42% to 5.26%.
The virus' spread is increasing across the country, as 43 states, including Maryland, have seen an increase in cases in the past week, according to data from Hopkins. Just one state has seen a decrease in the past week and six are considered to be level, according to Hopkins' data.
Younger Marylanders continued to drive the increase, with those in their 20s representing nearly a quarter of new cases reported. When combined with those in their 30s, those two age groups combined to make up nearly 43% of new cases reported Saturday.
Positivity rates among those below the age of 35 have increased from 3.45% as of Oct. 22 to 5.31% Friday. Positivity rates for those above the age of 35 jumped from 2.76% to 4.11% during that time.
Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has shown that rising positivity rates among people 20 to 39 precede positivity rate increases for people in their 60s or older by four days to just over two weeks.
Those age 70 or older made up just 7% of new cases Saturday, below the group’s 10% overall share of cases during the pandemic. All of those reported to have died Saturday were people in their 70s and older. Older Marylanders have disproportionately died from the virus; people aged 60 or older have made up more than 86% of deaths thus far statewide.
The state’s seven-day positivity rate was 4.54% as of Saturday, up from 4.37% Friday. Hopkins' positivity rate, which is calculated differently than the state’s, was 3.63% as of Friday’s data, up from 3.44% as of Thursday.
Black and Latino Marylanders have been hit disproportionately by the virus, as the two groups represent less than half of the state’s population but more than 60% of cases in which race is known.