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Coronavirus hospitalizations continue recent surge as Maryland reports first COVID-19 death of child under 10

Coronavirus-related hospitalizations continued to surge as Maryland reported 1,923 new cases Monday and 16 deaths tied to COVID-19, including the first death of a child under 10 years old during the pandemic.

The state has confirmed 8,278 confirmed virus cases in that age group so far.

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The child died Sunday, but the state declined to provide any other details. Maryland Department of Health spokesman Charlie Gischlar said in a statement Monday afternoon said the jurisdiction where the child lived has not yet been put on the death certificate. To protect confidentiality, Gischlar wrote, the child’s age and sex won’t be made public “AT THIS TIME.”

The state reported 1,527 people hospitalized with virus-related complications Monday, 66 more than Sunday. Hospitalizations have close to tripled since the beginning of the month when they stood at 523 and are getting closer to a late April peak of just more than 1,700.

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Hospitalizations are now at their highest level since mid-May.

Among those hospitalized, 344 required intensive care, 15 fewer than Sunday. ICU hospitalizations have more than doubled since the beginning of the month, when they were at 127.

“As this new surge continues, each and every Marylander must exercise personal responsibility in order to save lives and prevent our hospitals from overflowing,” wrote Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan in a tweet Monday morning.

Hospitalizations and deaths can lag behind a surge in cases, as it can take weeks for some patients’ symptoms to worsen and for some to die.

The state has now reported 1,000 or more new confirmed cases for 27 straight days after previously seeing new cases at that level sparingly after the initial spring outbeak.

The state’s 14-day average of newly reported cases was more than double the previous peak of 1,031 in May at 2,194 Monday.

Experts said that the expected impact of Thanksgiving on new cases likely won’t be reflected in the data until the second week of December. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the coming weeks could bring “a surge upon a surge” of the virus.

Although virus vaccines are expected to start rolling out soon, it could be well into 2021 for things to return to normal, experts have said, as it will likely take months for vaccines to become widely available.

Among those reported to have died Monday, all but the child were age 60 or older, an age group that has made up about 87% of the state’s death toll despite representing less than 20% of cases. The share of new cases reported Monday among those 60 or older was about in line with their average during the pandemic.

Younger Marylanders continued to drive case growth, with residents in their 20s representing the most new cases of any age group at close to 20%. When including residents in their 30s, that share rises to more than 35%.

The seven-day positivity rate among those below the age of 35 has been consistently higher than the rate for those above the age of 35 after the first few weeks of the pandemic.

Rural Allegany County, which has been a virus hotspot, reported 75 new cases and one death Monday. At 136.33, its seven-day average case rate per 100,000 people was still the state’s highest Sunday and more than quadruple the statewide average of 33.81. The county’s case rate hit a pandemic high of 171.84 Friday.

Its neighbor, rural Garrett County, also reported 27 new cases, more than 3% of its cases during the pandemic in one day. The county’s seven-day average case rate per 100,000 people was 114.23 as of Sunday, more than triple the statewide average.

The new figures bring the state to a total of 198,370 confirmed virus cases and 4,486 deaths tied to COVID-19 since March.

The state’s reported seven-day positivity rate was 6.86%, up from 6.53% Sunday.

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