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Maryland’s coronavirus positivity rate exceeds WHO threshold for third straight day, according to Hopkins

The percentage of Marylanders testing positive for the coronavirus continued to rise Monday, remaining above the World Health Organization’s 5% ceiling for the third straight day, according to tracking data by Johns Hopkins University.

Hopkins calculated the rate as 5.84%, up from the previous 5.39%. But because of a difference in formulas used, the state of Maryland said the positivity rate is 3.84%, up from 3.63% 24 hours earlier.

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The difference stems from the state using the total number of tests administered, while Hopkins uses the number of people tested. The World Health Organization has said that an area’s positive rate should be lower than 5% for at least 14 days before reopening.

On Sept. 1, with Maryland having met that threshold by Hopkins’ calculations, Gov. Larry Hogan lifted additional restrictions, allowing businesses to reopen and movie theaters and other entertainment venues to operate at 50% capacity. Local jurisdictions have been allowed to set stricter standards.

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The number of confirmed cases in Maryland is now 112,883, up by 764. The deaths of five more people were confirmed, bringing the total number since the pandemic began to 3,660.

According to the state, 21 more people were hospitalized, bringing the number to 362. Of those, 109 were in intensive care, up from 96.

Data on the racial breakdown of the newly reported cases and deaths continue to show a disproportionate toll on Black residents: They comprise about 30% of the state’s population, but 32% of those who have tested positive and 41% of the confirmed deaths.

Similarly, Latinos are about 10% of Maryland’s population but more than 22% of the cases and close to 12% of the confirmed deaths.

In nearly 17,000 cases, or about 15% of them, the person’s race was not available. Nor was it known for 11 of the confirmed deaths.

In recent weeks, several counties on Maryland’s Eastern Shore have seen their positivity rates rise above the state average. A recent outbreak at a nursing home in Caroline County contributed to a spike in the positivity rate, which according to the Maryland Department of Health is 7.56%.

The Caroline County Health Department said on its website that a total of 32 residents at the Caroline Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Denton — or almost half the 68 people living there — tested positive for COVID-19 since Aug. 29. Seventeen staff members tested positive as well, the department said.

Worcester County, home to Ocean City, where many were expected to celebrate the Labor Day weekend, has a 7% positive rate. It has been above the state rate since Aug. 19. Additionally, Wicomico County’s rate is 5%.

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