Maryland ended September with fewer new cases of the coronavirus and deaths from it than reported in August, but the state also performed fewer tests. Of those new infections, those aged 10-19 accounted for a larger proportion of the caseload than they had in any of the pandemic’s previous five full months.
On the final day of September, Maryland officials reported 414 new cases and three new fatalities associated with COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, for a total of 16,476 infections and 193 deaths for the month.
May remains the state’s worst month in both measures, with more than 31,000 infections and at least 1,364 fatalities. The state confirmed 19,903 cases and 250 deaths in August and 20,787 cases and 300 deaths in July.
September marked the first time the number of tests reported declined from the previous month. After the state reported more than 723,000 tests in August, September saw about 669,000.
In all, the coronavirus has infected at least 124,725 Marylanders, with its effects killing at least 3,805.
Of the total confirmed caseload to date, about one of every 12 infections in Maryland has been found in residents at least 10 years old but younger 20. But in September alone, as the state’s schools began to reopen, those aged 10-19 made up more than one in every six new confirmed cases. Only those in their 20s made up a larger percentage of the caseload by age.
Despite increasing caseloads in younger age groups, the virus remains deadliest among those older. While only representing about one in seven of September’s new cases, those at least 60 accounted for 87% of the virus' victims in Maryland over the past month. Those 80 or older were about 2% of the new cases but almost 42% of the latest dead.
One of the three victims reported Wednesday was in his or her 40s, while the other two were at least 80 years old.
Slightly more than 12.5% of the state’s cases have been found in residents or staff members of nursing homes and similar long-term care facilities, but those same groups make up 57% of the deaths.
Maryland’s reported seven-day testing positivity rate, which measures the percentage of virus tests that return positive results during a weeklong period, was 2.68%. That measure has increased for five straight days, though the state has reported a rate below 3% for 11 consecutive days, beneath 4% every day since Aug. 8 and under 5% every day since June 26.
The World Health Organization recommends governments see 14 straight days where fewer than 5% of “samples” come back positive for the virus before easing virus-related restrictions.
Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus resource center, which calculates positivity differently than the state, has Maryland’s seven-data positivity rate through Tuesday’s data as 5.13%, the third straight day at or above 5%. While Maryland determines positivity using tests conducted, Hopkins uses the people tested, meaning individuals who are tested multiple times, regardless of their results, are counted only once in the university’s calculation.
Of the more than 17,000 test results the state reported Wednesday, 3.26% were positive for the virus, the second day in a row Maryland’s single-day testing positivity rate was above 3% after six consecutive days below it.
Of the 368 new confirmed cases for which the state reported the infected person’s race Wednesday, about 50% were in residents who are Black, Hispanic or Latino, groups representing a combined 42% of Maryland’s overall population.
Despite representing nearly twice the proportion of the state’s population, white residents account for nearly the same portion for Maryland’s virus-related deaths as Black residents, at 42% and 41%, respectively.
In September, white Marylanders were 48% of the state’s September cases and 44% of its victims. Black residents had 35% of the infections but were 38% of those killed. Asian residents accounted for more than twice the proportion of deaths as they did cases, at 5.3% and 2.4%, respectively.
Maryland’s Hispanic and Latino population ended August accounting for 28% of the state’s total confirmed infections, but on Sept. 1, the state recategorized more than 1,100 such cases into other races as part of a code change made by the Chesapeake Regional Information System to “more accurately determine each patient’s ethnicity,” said Charlie Gischlar, spokesman for the Maryland Department of Health. Only 7.5% of September’s cases were reported among Hispanic and Latino residents, who were 11% of the month’s victims.
Maryland ends September with back-to-back days with all 24 of its jurisdictions reporting seven-day positivity rates beneath 5%. Before Tuesday, the state’s jurisdictions hadn’t all reported sub-5% rates since Aug. 29.
The state reported 335 patients currently hospitalized because of the virus' effects, 77 of those requiring intensive care.