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Maryland confirms 1,200 new coronavirus cases as state approaches 30,000 infections

Maryland officials said Thursday the state confirmed 1,211 new cases of the coronavirus, the state’s second largest single-day increase in infections.

The state also reported 63 new deaths from COVID-19, the disease associated with the virus, bringing Maryland’s death toll to 1,401, not counting an additional 102 deaths believed to be caused by the virus, but not confirmed by a laboratory test. Maryland’s 14-day rolling average of new confirmed fatalities has not dropped from one day to the next since the start of April.

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The new infections confirmed Thursday bring the state to at least 29,374 coronavirus cases. Including Thursday, six of the state’s nine highest single-day increases in new cases have come in the past week, which state officials attribute partly to expanded testing. Thursday’s 4,588 reported test results are the highest total of the past four days.

The implementation of Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s three-phase reopening plan is dependent on the decline or flattening of the number of cases that require hospitalization and intensive care.

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“We’re making sure we don’t overload our hospitals, but we also can’t continue to have people unemployed,” Hogan said in a Thursday interview with the website Barstool Sports. “We’ve got to strike that balance.”

The number of patients currently hospitalized dropped from 1,707 to 1,683. The state hasn’t reported fewer than 1,600 current hospitalizations since April 28, with the peak being 1,711 on April 30.

During that same span, Maryland has reported between 550 and 590 cases in intensive care each day. As of Thursday morning, the state has 584 ICU cases, matching Wednesday’s number.

There have been 2,029 patients who have been released from isolation since being confirmed to have the virus. The one-day increase of 126 recoveries — up almost 7% since Wednesday — marks the state’s largest single-day jump since April 19.

Although the stay-at-home order remains in place, the state made progress toward reopening Wednesday when Hogan announced that restrictions outdoor recreational activities such as golf, tennis and boating would be lifted Thursday. Wednesday also brought the formal closing of Maryland schools for the rest of the school year, nearly two months since students and teachers were first thrust into distance learning.

“Smart folks, like the president’s coronavirus task force, people like Dr. [Anthony] Fauci and Dr. [Deborah] Birx, they’re telling us that this thing can spike right back up again,” Hogan said. “We’re not flipping a switch. We’re dialing things up, trying to get things back to normal in a safe and effective way.”

Certain areas in the state have been hit harder by the virus than others. Half of the top 10 ZIP codes by total cases are in Prince George’s County — which has the state’s most confirmed cases at 8,516. Montgomery County, which has 6,032 confirmed cases, includes three of the top five ZIP codes by total cases. Two Baltimore-area ZIP codes, 21215 and 21224, rank eighth and ninth, respectively.

The state reported Wednesday that nearly 60% of the virus’ victims in Maryland were residents of long-term care facilities such as nursing homes. Of the state’s confirmed 2,317 infected residents at least 80 years old, more than a quarter have died. Those 611 fatalities account for nearly half of Maryland’s death toll from COVID-19, while nearly 90% of those the virus and its effects have killed in the state were at least 60 years old.

Among the infected and dead for whom race data was available, those who are black account for more than 40% of both groups, though African Americans are only 30% of Maryland’s overall population. Maryland’s Hispanic population, about 10% of its residents, make up about nearly a quarter of the state’s confirmed cases.

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