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Maryland reports no new virus deaths for first time since March, opens October by surpassing 125,000 cases

Every day of April through September, Maryland officials reported at least one death associated with the effects of the coronavirus, peaking at 74 in May before often settling in to single digits beginning in July. But on Thursday, the first day of October, the state reported no change to its COVID-19 death count for the first time since the pandemic’s early days in late March.

Also Thursday, Maryland officials reported 785 new cases of the coronavirus to bring the state above 125,000 total infections. With the state reporting no new deaths associated with COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, the death toll remained 3,805. Deaths, however, are not always reported the day they occur.

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The lack of reported fatalities coincides with Maryland’s highest single-day case increase since Sept. 12, while the state’s seven-day testing positivity rate experienced its largest jump since Sept. 6.

“This encouraging milestone is a tribute to the incredibly heroic efforts of our doctors, nurses, and health care workers on the front lines, and the courage and perseverance Marylanders have demonstrated in response to this unprecedented challenge," Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said in a statement. "We have lost more than 3,800 of our fellow Marylanders to this virus, and we mourn with their families. As we continue on our road to recovery, it is absolutely critical for all of us to remain vigilant.”

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Through Wednesday’s data, Maryland has the 27th-most cases per capita and 15th-most deaths per capita among states, according to the Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus resource center.

Hospitalizations

The state reported 331 patients currently hospitalized because of the virus' effects, down from Wednesday’s 334. Of those hospitalizations, 74 are requiring intensive care, a one-day decrease of three. Maryland reported 112 ICU cases Sept. 1.

Positivity rate

Maryland’s reported seven-day testing positivity rate, which measures the percentage of virus tests that return positive results during a weeklong period, jumped by 0.2 percentage points to 2.88% as the figure increased for a sixth straight day. The state has reported a rate below 3% for 12 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. Although Maryland has spent more than three months under that threshold, it first began its reopening processes before hitting that benchmark.

Hopkins, which calculates positivity differently than the state, has Maryland’s seven-data positivity rate through Wednesday’s data as 5.20%, the 24th-lowest among states. Hopkins’ figure for the state has increased for six straight days, while being at least 5% for the previous four. 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.

Testing

Maryland has performed the 26th-most tests per capita, according to Hopkins. The state reported fewer test results in September than it did in August.

Of the nearly 24,000 test results the state reported Thursday, 4.03% were positive for the virus, the first time since Sept. 9 that Maryland’s single-day testing positivity rate was reported to be above 4%. The single-day rate has exceeded 3% for three straight days, the first such streak since Sept. 13-15.

Maryland has reported 2.6 million test results overall, but with Thursday’s added results, the state has now performed more than 1 million repeat tests, meaning the tests were conducted on individuals who had already been tested at least once. Almost three-fifths of Thursday’s results were such tests.

Of the 1.6 million Maryland residents who have been tested, 7.7% received at least one positive result. Slightly more than 3% of those confirmed to have the virus have died.

Age and race data

Almost 43% of Thursday’s new cases are in residents who are at least 10 years old but younger than 30, an age range representing 26% of Maryland’s overall population, according to U.S. Census data. In September, the 10-19 age range made up a larger portion of Maryland’s added caseload than it had in any previous month.

The state’s reported seven-day positivity rates for residents older and younger than 35 both increased. Since Sunday, the rate in the elder group has risen from 2.14% to 2.39%, while the younger group’s rate has gone from 3.31% to 3.75%.

Of the 614 confirmed cases for which the state reported the infected person’s race, nearly half were white, a race representing about 58% of Maryland’s overall population. Of the total caseload, white residents account for about 30% of confirmed infections among those whose race is known, while those who are Black, Hispanic or Latino, groups representing a combined 42% of the state’s population, are 63% of the caseload.

Despite representing nearly double 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.

About 15% of those infected in Maryland have not been identified by race, while the races of eight of the dead are also not known.

Cases and positivity by jurisdiction

For the third straight day, all 24 of Maryland’s jurisdictions reported seven-day positivity rates beneath 5%, though Somerset County’s rate jumped nearly 2 percentage points from Wednesday to 4.95%.

This stretch gives the state eight days in all during the nearly seven months of the pandemic where all jurisdictions had rates beneath 5%.

Baltimore’s rate jumped from 1.86% to 2.25%, ending the city’s two-week streak with a rate under 2%. More than one-fifth of Thursday’s new cases were reported in Baltimore, while the city and Prince George’s, Montgomery, Baltimore and Anne Arundel counties — the state’s top five jurisdictions by total cases — represented 77% of Thursday’s confirmed infections.

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