Maryland confirmed 456 new cases of the coronavirus Wednesday, bringing the state to at least 109,319 infections of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
The six more fatalities reported Wednesday raised Maryland’s virus-related death toll to at least 3,623. Another 143 deaths are believed to have been caused by the virus, but those individuals’ infections were never confirmed by a laboratory test.
The number of patients currently hospitalized in Maryland because of the virus declined for the first time in three days, falling by 15 to 370. The number of patients requiring intensive care increased by one from Tuesday to 113.
Maryland’s seven-day average positivity rate — the percentage of tests that return a positive result over a weeklong period — was 3.36% on Wednesday, the 25th consecutive day the state has reported that figure being beneath 4%.
The state has reported a seven-day positivity rate under 5% every day since June 26. The World Health Organization recommends governments have a positivity rate of 5% or less for 14 straight days before easing virus-related restrictions.
Despite exceeding it now, Maryland first began its reopening process before hitting that benchmark. On Tuesday, Gov. Larry Hogan announced the state will enter the third stage of its reopening process Friday.
Over the past two weeks, Maryland has averaged 548 new confirmed cases a day, a decrease of about 38% since early August, but about 200 more than the state averaged daily in early July before cases again increased later in the month.
Of the 12,400 test results Maryland reported Wednesday, 4.13% came back positive. Paired with Tuesday’s 4.67%, it marks the first time Maryland has reported a single-day positivity rate above 4% on consecutive days since Aug. 3 and 4.
Maryland has reported 1.96 million test results, with almost 620,000 of those tests performed on individuals who already had been tested. Of the 1.35 million Marylanders tested for the virus, 8.1% have received a positive result at least once.
In comparison to other states, Maryland entered Wednesday with the 19th lowest seven-day positivity rate, according to Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus resource center. Hopkins, though, calculates positivity differently than the state.
Rather than using the number of positive tests among all tests performed, Hopkins divides new confirmed cases by new people tested, meaning any individual who is tested more than once is counted only once in the calculation. The state, however, includes those repeat tests in its formula as long as they were not performed the same day at the same location.
Using Hopkins’ method, Maryland’s positivity rate was 4.58% through Tuesday, the 19th straight day Hopkins had the state’s rate beneath 5%.
More than a quarter of Wednesday’s new cases, 117, were in residents in their 20s, nearly double that age range’s proportion in Maryland’s overall population, according to U.S. census data. All six new victims were at least 60 years old, with four being at least 80.
At least 15,000 of the state’s cases stem from nursing homes or similar long-term care facilities, accounting for nearly 14% of Maryland’s overall caseload. The state has reported 2,130 deaths among residents and staff of such facilities, about 59% of all the virus-related victims in the state.
Of those whose race is known, about 38% of those infected in Maryland are Black, a group representing 31% of the state’s population, while 21% of cases are in Hispanic residents, who account for about 11% of Maryland’s population.
White residents represent the plurality of victims whose race was known at 42%, while Black residents account for 41% of deaths.
The state does not have race data available for 15% of its cases. The race of 10 victims has not been reported.
Baltimore’s seven-day positivity rate of 3.04% is its lowest on record and marks the third straight day the city’s rate has been below the state’s overall figure. Previously, Baltimore’s rate had exceeded the state’s every day since June 26.
Worcester and Caroline counties, both of which have fewer than 1,000 total cases, have both seen their rates spike in recent days. Worcester County, with the highest rate of any jurisdiction in the state at 8.39%, reported a 2.16% rate Aug. 14. Caroline County’s 6.56% rate comes a week after it reported a rate of 2.08%.
All 22 of the state’s other jurisdictions are reporting seven-day rates beneath 5%.