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Maryland reports fewer new confirmed coronavirus cases in June than April, May

With the state’s coronavirus pandemic entering its fifth calendar month Wednesday, Maryland saw fewer new confirmed infections of COVID-19 in June than in either April or May, according to state data.

State officials reported 359 new cases Wednesday, bringing Maryland to a total of 67,918 confirmed infections as of the first day of July. That’s 14,591 more cases than the state had June 1, compared to increases of 21,487 from April 1 to May 1 and 29,855 from May 1 to June 1.

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Along with new cases, Maryland has seen declining rates in other prinicipal metrics such as deaths, hospitalizations and testing positivity rate over the past month.

“Here in Maryland, every one of our important metrics continues to trend in a positive direction,” Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said at Wednesday’s meeting of the Board of Public Works.

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But the Republican governor urged caution over the Fourth of July weekend, saying: “This crisis is not behind us. We cannot afford to stop being vigilant and cautious.”

The state reported 15 more fatalities Wednesday, the sixth straight day with fewer than 20 deaths reported. Maryland’s 646 fatalities reported between June 1 and Wednesday are less than half of the 1,333 deaths reported during the month of May. In all, the virus has killed 3,077 of those with confirmed infections.

Deaths are not always reported on the day or even week they occur.

June started with 1,174 patients hospitalized for the virus, with 479 of those cases requiring intensive care. Although current hospitalizations increased slightly for a third straight day Wednesday, those figures have dropped to 461 hospitalized and 154 in intensive case, respectively, over the past month.

At the end of May, the state’s rolling seven-day testing positivity rate was 10.9%, a steep drop after ending April at 24.5% but still among the highest in the country. Now, Maryland is one of 26 states with a rolling positivity rate below 5%, according to Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus resource center.

The World Health Organization recommends 14 straight days of positivity rates below 5% before governments begin easing virus-related restrictions; Maryland’s 4.72% rate reported Wednesday marked its sixth straight day below 5%.

The positivity-rate figure Hopkins includes in its daily reports is consistently higher than that of the state. The difference comes from the data used in the calculations. Maryland officials calculate the positivity rate as the number of positive tests divided by total testing volume over a seven-day period. Rather than the total testing volume, Hopkins uses the number of people tested, or the combination of new cases and people who tested negative.

Nearly 475,000 people have been tested in Maryland for the coronavirus, with the state administering over 662,000 tests. About one in eight people tested have received a positive result.

More than 70% of the state’s victims have been at least 70 years old, a group that accounts for less than 14% of Maryland’s confirmed caseload. More than 14,000 of the state’s cases — about one in five — stem from nursing homes and similar long-term care facilities. Likewise, more than 63% of Maryland’s virus-related deaths are tied to those facilities.

For each 10-year age range covering those in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s, there have been at least 10,000 cases, with those groups combining to account for more than two-thirds of the state’s total infections.

Hogan said the virus “is beginning to spread rapidly among young people” and that young people sometimes seem to believe they are “bulletproof.”

The state does not have race data for almost 18% of its cases. Among those it does, nearly 35% of the infections are in those who are Hispanic, a group representing about 10% of Maryland’s overall population. Those who are Black, 30% of the state’s population, make up 41% of Maryland’s death toll from the virus, while those who are white, about 60% of the population, represent the plurality of victims at 43%.

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Baltimore Sun reporter Jeff Barker contributed to this article.

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