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Maryland adds 1,541 coronavirus cases, third-highest daily total since start of pandemic

Maryland reported 1,541 new coronavirus cases Friday, the third-highest daily total since the start of the pandemic, continuing an upward trend that caused state officials to set off alarm bells this week.

Friday’s new case count trailed only behind two days in May that each broke 1,700. The state has now seen three consecutive days of 1,000 new cases or more.

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Maryland on Friday also passed 600 hospitalizations for the first time since June, and added 11 new deaths tied to COVID-19. Deaths and hospitalizations are figures that can lag behind increasing caseloads, as it can take weeks for symptoms to worsen or patients to die from the virus.

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan said at a news conference Thursday that the state was at a pivotal point in fighting the virus, but didn’t enact new restrictions.

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Friday’s data brought Maryland to a total of 151,505 virus cases and 4,046 deaths since March. The state has the 17th-most deaths and the 33rd-most cases per capita among states, according to data from Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus resource center.

Cases are growing across the country, as 43 states, including Maryland, have seen cases increase in the past week, according to Hopkins. Just one state, Tennessee, has seen cases decline. Six states have seen cases stay flat, according to Hopkins.

Since the end of September, the two-week average of daily new cases in Maryland has spiked from 488 on Sept. 30 to 915 as of Friday. That figure reached a pandemic high of 1,031 new cases in May.

Hogan urged Marylanders on Thursday to not “let our guard down” as metrics increase and cooler weather arrives. He said the state’s “worst time” with the virus could be in the coming months.

Research has shown that cooler fall and winter weather can allow the virus to spread more easily. Such seasonal variation could be due to the direct effects of heat on viruses and because more people congregate indoors when it gets cold outside.

Maryland reported 609 people hospitalized Friday, up from 588 Thursday, as hospitalizations have more than doubled since late September. Rising hospitalizations have been some experts' biggest concern statewide.

Among those hospitalized, 152 needed intensive care, down slightly from 157 Thursday. ICU hospitalizations have more than doubled since they were at 68 as of late September.

The state’s rolling seven-day positivity rate was 4.37% as of Friday, up from 4.21% Thursday. Hopkins' positivity rate, which is calculated differently than the state’s, was 3.44% as of Thursday’s data, up from 3.32% as of Wednesday.

Younger Marylanders continued to drive case growth Friday, with people in their 20s, 30s and 40s accounting for 869 cases, or more than 56% of the day’s total. Those in their 20s accounted for 353 cases.

Marylanders age 60 and older made up 15% of cases reported Friday. Eight of the 11 deaths reported Friday were among Marylanders in their 70s and 80s. Marylanders 60 and older have accounted for close to 87% of deaths thus far during the pandemic.

Baltimore City, which has continued to see positivity and case rates rise precipitously, added 214 cases Friday. The city’s case rate per 100,000 residents has more than doubled since Oct. 16, going from 7.87 to 20.12 as of Thursday, well above the statewide average. The city’s positivity rate also increased to 4.98%.

The city has the second-most cases per capita in the state as of Friday, behind Prince George’s County.

Those climbing rates come as the Baltimore Convention Center Field Hospital testing site moved indoors Wednesday for the season, according to a news release from the Maryland Department of Health. More than 38,000 COVID-19 tests have been conducted at the convention center thus far, making it one of the most-used walk-in testing locations in the state, according to the release.

The release said that with tens of thousands of square feet and 32-foot-high ceilings, the new space provides “ample room for physical distancing and air circulation."

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