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Maryland coronavirus hospitalizations drop further as state passes 60,000 infections

As Maryland prepares for the next steps in its reopening process, the state reached over 60,000 cases of the coronavirus, had further declines in its number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 and saw its number of unemployment insurance applicants grow from the week prior.

With 902 hospitalizations reported Thursday, Maryland officials marked a 15th straight day of declines in the number of current hospitalizations, extending the state’s longest streak of days in which the number of patients dropped from one day to the next. The number of patients is at its lowest since April 8, while the 538 patients requiring intensive care are the state’s fewest since there was the same count April 10.

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Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced Wednesday that the state would expand its reopening process this week and next, with increased indoor dining and the opening of indoor gyms among the upcoming changes.

Meanwhile, another 1.5 million people nationwide applied for unemployment insurance for the first time last week. More than 53,000 of those new claims came in Maryland, an increase of more than 10,000 from the week before. The state’s unemployment system has been troubled with various issues as a result of the coronavirus, some of those who have used it told The Baltimore Sun. This surge of user issues prompted the state’s congressional delegation to send a letter to Hogan demanding fixes.

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Maryland’s continued reopening goes against a World Health Organization recommendation that states see 14 straight days of positivity rates — the rate at which those tested for the virus are confirmed to have it — of 5% or lower before governments consider easing restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the virus.

The state is reporting a seven-day rolling positivity rate of 7.25%, an increase of .01%. That metric has risen two straight days after falling for 13 consecutively. As of Thursday morning, Maryland has one of the 10 highest positivity rates in the country and is one of 17 states with a positivity rate higher than 5%, according to Johns Hopkins.

Maryland has conducted more than 460,000 tests for the virus on about 390,000 people. With 732 new confirmed infections added Thursday, the state pushed past 60,000 cases in the nearly three months since reporting its first. Of those who have been tested, 60,197 — 15.3% — have tested positive.

Maryland has reported fewer than 40 new fatalities associated with COVID-19 for eight straight days, with 31 added Thursday. Deaths are not always reported on the date they occur. The death toll in Maryland is now 2,750, not including 125 victims whose infections weren’t confirmed by a laboratory test.

Data posted to the state’s coronavirus-focused website indicates that about half of the fatalities were residents of long-term care facilities such as nursing homes, but an analysis by The Baltimore Sun showed that the state under-publicized that data and the portion of victims who were nursing residents is closer to two-thirds of Maryland’s total.

That figure lines up with the state’s overall data on the ages of victims, with more than 70% of Maryland’s virus-related deaths being in those who were at least 70 years old.

Among those whose race is known, more than two-thirds of Maryland’s infected are black or Hispanic, groups who combine for 40% of the state’s overall population. The percentage of victims who are white or black is similar, at 43% and 42% respectively, but Maryland’s white population is twice as large, at 60% compared to 30% who are black, according to U.S. census data. Race data is not available for 17.5% of the state’s infections.

Baltimore continues to trail Prince George’s, Montgomery and Baltimore counties for the state jurisdictions with the most total infections. Those four combine to account for about 73% of the state’s cases.

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