Maryland officials confirmed 440 new cases of the coronavirus Wednesday, and reported 10 more related deaths.
Wednesday’s additions bring the state to 105,486 confirmed infections of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, and 3,574 virus-related fatalities.
The number of virus patients in intensive care units rose back above 100 on Wednesday, jumping by nine to 106. Maryland hospitals have 432 patients currently hospitalized because of the virus, up from Tuesday’s 411. By percentage, both figures saw their largest one-day increases since late July.
Maryland has reported fewer than 500 new cases on two consecutive days for the first time since July 5 and 6, but the decline in new cases coincides with a decline in new test results. The state also has reported fewer than 13,000 tests each of the past two days, which it hadn’t done since July 7 and 8.
Of the nearly 12,400 results reported Wednesday, 4.34% of the tests were positive, the highest single-day testing positivity rate Maryland has reported since Aug. 11.
As a result, Maryland’s seven-day average testing positivity rate climbed to 3.35%, the highest that figure has been since Aug. 16. But the state has reported a seven-day rate, the percentage of tests during the prior week that return a positive result, below 5% for two consecutive months. The World Health Organization recommends 14 straight days with a rate of 5% or lower before governments begin easing virus-related restrictions.
The past two days aside, Maryland’s overall downward trend in positivity rate reflects a statewide increase in testing. When the state first reported a seven-day rate under 5% on June 26, its single-day high for number of test results was about 16,300; it has surpassed that figure 37 times in the past two months.
The state’s positivity rate is calculated using those test results, meaning multiple tests on one individual are all included in the calculation unless the tests were performed the same day at the same location.
Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center, which calculates positivity rates by dividing the number of cases by the number of people tested, pegged Maryland’s positivity rate as of Tuesday at 4.32%, the 19th lowest among the states. It was the 12th straight day Hopkins’ rate for the state was beneath 5%.
Of the 1.8 million test results Maryland has reported, about 557,000 have been performed on individuals who already have been tested at least once. About 8.4% of the almost 1.3 million Marylanders who have been tested for COVID-19 have received at least one positive result.
Exactly 40% of Wednesday’s new cases were in residents in their 20s or 30s, while all 10 victims were at least 60 years old. Five were 80 or older.
About 16% of the state’s cases have been tied to nursing homes or similar long-term care facilities, but nearly 60% of fatalities have been connected to such facilities, according to state data. Overall, more than 70% of those the virus has killed in Maryland were at least 70 years old, an age range accounting for 11% of the state’s cases.
Of the 393 new infected persons Maryland identified by race Wednesday, 40% were white, as were five of the eight victims whose race was known, while a third of the new cases were in Black residents and a fifth were in Hispanic residents.
Although 59% of Maryland’s total population is white, that group represents only 26% of the state’s overall caseload and 42% of its death toll, for cases in which race is known. Black Marylanders, 31% of the state’s population, account for 38% of the cases and 41% of the fatalities. Hispanic residents’ proportion in the state’s virus caseload, 28%, is nearly three times their representation in Maryland’s population, 10%.
The race of the infected person is not known in about 15% of Maryland’s cases, while 13 victims have yet to be identified by their race.
Somerset County, with a seven-day positivity rate of 5.01%, is the only of the state’s 24 jurisdictions above the 5% benchmark. Prince George’s, Worchester and Charles counties also exceed 4%.