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Maryland reports 712 new coronavirus cases, eight deaths, continuing week of increasing cases

Maryland health officials reported 712 new coronavirus cases Friday along with eight deaths tied to COVID-19, the illness the virus causes.

With research suggesting that colder fall and winter weather could bring more virus cases, Maryland and 36 other states have seen cases rise in the past week, according to the Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus resource center. Just four states and Washington, D.C., have seen cases decline in the past week, while nine have seen level cases, according to Hopkins' data.

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Friday’s new data brought Maryland to a total of 138,691 confirmed coronavirus cases and 3,932 deaths since the virus arrived in the state in March.

There were 458 patients reported hospitalized statewide, the same as Thursday. Hospitalizations have been rising since a Sept. 20 low of 281 patients, although Friday’s total remains well below a late April peak of more than 1,700 hospitalizations.

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Among those hospitalized, 122 needed intensive care, three fewer than Thursday but the 11th straight day with ICU hospitalizations of 100 or more. ICU hospitalizations peaked in mid-May at more than 600.

Maryland’s seven-day positivity rate, which measures the percentage of positive tests over a week, was reported at 3% Friday, down from 3.1% Thursday. The state’s positivity rate has risen from a low of 2.51% in late September, according to The Baltimore Sun’s coronavirus data.

Hopkins, whose data provider changed how it calculates positivity Oct. 16, reported the state’s positivity rate as 2.41% as of Thursday, up slightly from 2.37% Wednesday. The change has brought Hopkins' number, much closer to the state’s calculation.

The change underscores nationwide inconsistency in the way positivity rates are calculated. The state calculates the formula by measuring the percentage of positive tests out of the total number of tests, whereas Hopkins now calculates its figure by dividing the total number of tests by the number of people testing positive. Hopkins used to calculate the rate by dividing the number of new cases by the number of new people tested in a weeklong span.

Dr. Jennifer Nuzzo, lead epidemiologist for Hopkins' Testing Insights Initiative, told The Sun that the state’s figure isn’t inaccurate.

“Actually, the CDC put out a definition of how you can calculate positivity, and they articulated three different ways, and it was people over people, people over tests, or tests over tests. States are doing all three in their own calculations," Nuzzo said. "I think our preference is, where possible, to have an apple over an apple versus an apple over an orange.

"But the reality is when we’re dealing with messy data in the real world, we have to do the best that we can with the best data that we can find, and those might not be the ideal data. If we had federal data standards, it would be a lot easier.”

Among the eight Marylanders reported Friday to have died from the virus, six were 70 or older, but one was in their 30s and another was in their 40s. Just 51 Marylanders in their 30s and 125 Marylanders in their 40s have died from the virus, according to state records. Nearly 87% of the total deaths in the state have been in those 60 or older.

Younger Marylanders continued to make up the bulk of the new cases. Those in their 20s, 30s and 40s represented more than half of cases reported Friday, with those in their 20s being the age group with the most newly reported cases.

Cases have been rising in Baltimore City, which accounted for more than 14% of new cases reported Friday. After seeing a case rate of 7.87 per 100,000 on Oct. 16 — significantly below the state average — that figure climbed to just below the state average at 10.4 as of Thursday.

Black and Latino residents continued to be disproportionately hit by the virus in Friday’s numbers, following state and national trends throughout the pandemic. Overall, Black and Latino people make up less than half of the state’s population but more than 61% of cases in which race is known thus far.

Baltimore Sun reporter Nathan Ruiz contributed to this article.

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