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Maryland reports third-highest daily case total ever, most deaths since early June the day before Thanksgiving

A day before Thanksgiving, Maryland reported 2,697 new coronavirus cases and 38 deaths tied to COVID-19.

Wednesday’s cases were the third-highest single daily total during the pandemic, lower than just two days in the past week. The state’s daily death total was the highest since it reported 45 fatalities June 3.

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The state has now reported 1,000 or more virus cases for 22 consecutive days. Officials also reported 2,000 or more cases for eight of the past 12 days, a daily total that hadn’t been reached once before this stretch.

The state reported 1,406 people hospitalized with virus-related complications Wednesday, 65 more than Tuesday. Hospitalizations due to the virus, which have more than quadrupled since Oct. 4, are approaching a late April peak of just more than 1,700.

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Among those hospitalized, 308 required intensive care, six fewer than Tuesday. ICU hospitalizations have more than doubled since the beginning of the month, when they stood at 127.

Deaths and hospitalizations can lag behind an increase in cases, as it may take weeks for some patients’ symptoms to worsen and for some to die. The state’s 14-day average new daily deaths has climbed from eight as of Nov. 8 to 19 as of Wednesday.

Health officials have urged residents to celebrate Thanksgiving with their households only. Gov. Larry Hogan said Monday it would be “reckless” for Marylanders to socialize in bars Wednesday night, traditionally one of the busiest bar nights of the year. The state is scaling up its enforcement efforts ahead of Thanksgiving, sending out extra state troopers to enforce virus-related restrictions.

Nearly 90% of state residents are planning to stay home for Thanksgiving, according to a recent AAA survey. Half of those who responded to the survey said they are staying home because of the coronavirus, the survey said.

However, a University of Maryland Medical System survey released Wednesday said 44% of Marylanders surveyed have not canceled in-person Thanksgiving or holiday plans due to the virus.

The hospital system’s survey also showed that residents in Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore are less likely to have canceled in-person holiday plans than in other regions of the state, with 53% of residents surveyed saying they hadn’t canceled in-person Thanksgiving or holiday plans due to the virus.

In the Baltimore region, 57% of those surveyed said they had canceled or will cancel in-person Thanksgiving or holiday plans due to the virus, while 43% said they hadn’t.

“No question about it, these survey results are concerning,” said Dr. David Marcozzi, UMMS COVID-19 incident commander and top medical adviser to Hogan, in a news release. “This could be setting up a perfect storm, with COVID cases on the rise throughout the state and multiple super-spreader events, it could cause a significant strain on the state’s healthcare system.”

That survey comes as Western Maryland and parts of the state’s Eastern Shore are being ravaged by the virus.

A virus hotspot, Allegany County added 141 new cases Wednesday, or more than 5% of its cases during the pandemic in a single day, along with another death. As of Tuesday, the county’s seven-day average case rate per 100,000 people was 166.76, more than four times the statewide average of 37.

Neighboring Garrett County added 67 new cases Wednesday, 11% of the county’s case total during the entire pandemic. Garrett County’s seven-day average case rate per 100,000 people was 106.84 Tuesday.

On the Eastern Shore, Somerset County’s seven-day average case rate per 100,000 people was 103.73, close to triple the statewide average.

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Baltimore County and Baltimore City’s seven-day average case rate per 100,000 people were both above the statewide average Tuesday, at 43.25 and 45.76, respectively.

Younger Marylanders continued to drive the surge in cases Wednesday, with those in their 20s and 30s accounting for nearly 36% of the state’s new cases.

Among those reported to have died Wednesday, all were 60 or older, including 21 people 80 or older. Residents 60 or older have made up nearly 87% of deaths statewide despite making up less than 20% of total cases.

The new data bring the state to a total of 188,161 confirmed virus cases and 4,363 deaths since March.

The state’s reported seven-day positivity rate was 6.52%, down slightly from 6.6% Tuesday.

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