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Maryland sees fourth straight day of declining new cases of coronavirus while matching single-day high for fatalities

Even as Maryland reported its fourth consecutive day of declines in new coronavirus cases Tuesday, the number who died since Monday matched the single-day high.

The state health department said Tuesday that there were 709 new confirmed cases and 74 more deaths as a result of the COVID-19 illness.

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Tuesday’s numbers bring the state to a total of at least 27,117 infections and 1,290 fatalities. An additional 100 deaths are believed to be caused by the virus but not confirmed by laboratory tests.

But as those counts continue to climb, Gov. Larry Hogan’s office has noted recently that the metrics it’s most focused on before beginning implementation of its reopening plan are hospitalizations and cases requiring intensive care.

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Both appear to have plateaued in recent days, though Hogan said previously a 14-day downward trend in those statistics and others would be required to lift stay-at-home orders and allow the state to begin reopening in stages.

The state reported 138 new hospitalizations Tuesday, down from 148 Monday and 141 Sunday and the fewest in the past six days. The total number hospitalized, however, ticked up by 44 to 1,693, with 573 intensive care cases compared with 563 on Monday. Tuesday’s 709 cases were the fewest new confirmed cases in Maryland since April 28, though the 3,108 completed test results the state reported Tuesday also mark its fewest in that span. Before this stretch, Maryland hadn’t had more than two consecutive days in which the number of new confirmed cases was lower than the day before.

Tuesday’s 74 additional deaths matched April 25 for the most Maryland has reported for one day and exceed the combined 60 deaths reported in the prior two days. The state’s 14-day rolling average of new victims hasn’t decreased from one day to the next since the start of April.

The seven ZIP codes with the most confirmed cases are all in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties, the only two of Maryland’s jurisdictions with more than 3,500 confirmed cases overall. Two ZIP codes in the Baltimore area, 21215 and 21224, are eighth and 10th, respectively, with 415 and 354 confirmed cases.

For the first time since the state began reporting race data, the number of white victims in Maryland exceeded the number of black victims, though those who are white represent about twice the portion of the state’s overall population, according to U.S. census data.

Among those whose race was known, African Americans account for about 43% of both the state’s infections and fatalities despite representing only 30% of Maryland’s overall population.

About 10% of the state’s population is Hispanic, but nearly a quarter of Maryland’s confirmed cases are in that group. However, less than 2% of those 5,144 cases have ended in death.

Those under 60 years old are nearly 70% of Maryland’s caseload, but almost 90% of the state’s victims were at least 60 among those whose age was known. A quarter of those 80 years old or older with a confirmed infection have died.

Separately, Maryland officials launched a new online portal Tuesday where those in need of protective gear such as masks and gloves can find local sellers, aiding the hunt for critical items in short supply at hospitals and elsewhere during the coronavirus pandemic.

Hogan has identified securing adequate supplies of personal protective equipment, or PPE, as a key pillar to his plan to lift distancing measures and reopen the state. The others are hospital capacity as well as adequate testing and contact tracing for those possibly infected with the COVID-19 illness.

Hospitals and other facilities have their own supply chains, but they have been stretched to the limit by the pandemic. There are reports of nurses wearing then cleaning single-use masks repeatedly and doctors avoiding going bedside to preserve gear.

The Maryland Manufacturing Network Supplier Portal is operated by the Maryland Department of Commerce and the Maryland Manufacturing Extension Partnership. The site won’t handle sales but can connect buyers and sellers so they make a deal offline, officials said.

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The state also has been buying and distributing protective equipment. Since March 27, officials report that a state task force has secured: 4.5 million KN95 masks, 3.5 million gloves, 1.1 million face shields, 600,000 N95 masks, 150,000 gowns, 47,000 gallons of hand sanitizer and 5,000 infrared thermometers. It’s not clear how much has been distributed and used, or how much remains in state warehouses.

Hospitals are tracking the gear to make sure it goes where it’s most needed, but they go through supplies quickly dealing with the contagious respiratory illness. LifeBridge Health operates several hospitals and reports, for example, that it averages 4,500 N95 masks per week, 575,000 gloves per week and 45,000 isolation gowns per week.

The portal can help fill more gaps, state officials said.

Baltimore Sun reporter Meredith Cohn contributed to this article.

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