Coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continued to surge Thursday across Maryland, as the state reported 1,477 new cases along with 12 deaths tied to COVID-19.
Testing has now identified 1,000 or more new cases for each of the nine past days. Maryland’s two-week average of new daily cases grew again to 1,180 as of Thursday, setting a new pandemic high for the fourth straight day.
Hospitalizations, which have spiked lately, grew by 58 to 863. The number of people hospitalized has jumped by 208 since Sunday, when it stood at 655 and more than doubled since Oct. 12′s 384.
Among those hospitalized, 199 needed intensive care, six more than Wednesday. ICU hospitalizations have surged since Oct. 27, when 105 people required intensive care. The state hadn’t hit ICU hospitalization levels this high since June.
The state’s seven-day average case rate per 100,000 people, now 22.82 as of Wednesday, has more than doubled since Oct. 24, when it was 10.3.
“I’ve always told it to you straight,” said Gov. Larry Hogan at a Thursday news conference announcing another $70 million in spending uses federal coronavirus relief funding. “The sad truth is that the next several months will likely be by far the most difficult we have faced.”
The state may have to tighten virus-related restrictions in the coming weeks and months, Hogan said.
Hogan reduced restaurant capacity statewide Tuesday and discouraged indoor gatherings of more than 25 people, saying the state was heading into “the danger zone” with the virus. Hogan has urged Marylanders to continue wearing masks, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday protects mask-wearers as well as others whom the wearer could infect.
People in their 20s and 30s made up 32% of new cases reported Thursday, but people in their 50s and 60s, who have been more likely to die from the virus, made up nearly 28% of the latest cases.
Younger people have not been immune from the virus’ severe consequences. A Marylander in their 20s was among those reported Thursday to have died, the 25th person fatality among those in their 20s. The other 11 deaths reported were among people age 60 or older, an age range that has represented more than 86% of deaths thus far statewide.
Thursday’s reported deaths also underscored the virus' disproportionate toll on Black Marylanders. Nearly all the people reported to have died from the virus Thursday were Black. Black residents make up about 31% of the state’s population but represent more than 40% of deaths thus far.
For comparison, white residents make up about 58% of the population but account for about 43% of deaths to date.
Black and Latino residents combined make up less than half of the state’s populationbut have represented about 60% of virus cases thus far statewide in which race was known.
The new numbers bring the state to a total of 159,900 confirmed virus cases and 4,112 deaths since March.
Nationwide, 46 states including Maryland have seen an increase in cases in the past week, according to Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus resource center. One saw a decrease and three have stayed level.
The state’s reported seven-day rolling positivity rate was 5.65%, up slightly from 5.6% Wednesday. Maryland’s positivity rate has spiked precipitously in recent weeks, jumping from just 3% Oct. 22.
Twelve of the state’s 24 jurisdictions have positivity rates above 5%, according to data from the Maryland Department of Health. The 5% figure is significant because the World Health Organization has recommended governments see at least 14 days of positivity rates at or below 5% before rolling back virus-related restrictions.
The jurisdiction with the highest positivity rate, Allegany County at 8.92%, reported another 28 new cases Thursday, bringing its case total to 1,273. The county’s seven-day average case rate per 100,000 people was reported to be more than triple the statewide average, at 73.24 as of Wednesday.
Frostburg State University there moved from in-person classes to remote learning Wednesday for the rest of the semester due to an uptick in cases.