The coronavirus pandemic continued to surge in Maryland as the state reported 1,375 new cases Monday, while the testing positivity rate climbed above 5% for the first time since June.
Maryland has now seen six consecutive days of 1,000 or more virus cases — a pandemic record.
The state’s two-week average of new daily cases also set a pandemic high of 1,038, soaring from the low 600s a little over two weeks ago. The previous high of 1,031 was set when the virus was peaking in May.
The state reported 707 people hospitalized with the virus Monday, up 52 from Sunday. Hospitalizations have spiked in recent weeks to reach their highest level since June, rising from a recent low of 281 on Sept. 20.
Among those hospitalized, 168 needed intensive care, five more than Sunday.
The state’s seven-day positivity rate was 5.05% as of Monday, up from 4.62% Sunday. Monday was the first time the state’s positivity rate surpassed 5% since June, according to The Baltimore Sun’s coronavirus data.
The 5% figure is significant because the World Health Organization has recommended governments see positivity rates at or below 5% before easing virus-related restrictions.
Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, said in a tweet Monday that the state is at a “critical turning point" in its fight against the virus. Hogan will be holding a news conference at 5 p.m. Tuesday to “provide an update to Marylanders on our efforts to slow the spread” of the virus, he said in a tweet Monday afternoon.
“While our state has been preparing for this fall surge for the past eight months, we cannot afford to let our guard down. Wear a mask, wash your hands, and watch your distance,” Hogan said. “We will continue to keep Marylanders informed in the days ahead.”
Half of Maryland’s 24 jurisdictions have positivity rates above 5%, according to Hogan.
Baltimore City, which announced Friday it was tightening some coronavirus-related restrictions on bars, restaurants and gatherings, has continued to see case rates skyrocket.
The city’s seven-day case rate per 100,000 residents has more than tripled since Oct. 16, spiking from 7.87 (below the statewide average) to 26.38 as of Sunday, well above the statewide average. During that time, the city’s positivity rate has more than doubled from to 2.42% to 6%.
Forty-four states, including Maryland, have seen case counts increase in the past week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus resource center. No states have seen cases fall in the past week and just six have seen cases stay level, according to Hopkins.
The new numbers come after Pfizer said Monday that early data indicate its COVID-19 vaccine may be 90% effective in preventing the virus.
Cases continue to surge among younger Marylanders, as those in their 20s made up 22% of new cases reported Monday. That figure shoots up to nearly 54% when those in their 30s and 40s are included.
Statewide, the positivity rate among Marylanders below the age of 35 has jumped to 5.33% as of Saturday, up from 3.71% just two weeks prior.
Among the nine new deaths Maryland reported Monday, seven victims were age 80 or older. The virus has disproportionately killed older Marylanders, as more than 86% of deaths thus far have come from those age 60 or older.
Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that rising positivity rates among people 20 to 39 precede positivity rate increases for people in their 60s or older by four days to just over two weeks.
The state also reported 231 new cases among those between the ages of zero and 19, or nearly 17% of new cases reported Monday.
The new batch of data reported Monday brings the state to a total of 155,371 virus cases and 4,072 deaths.
The virus has disproportionately hit Black and Latino Marylanders, who make up less than half of the state’s population but have accounted for more than 60% of cases in which race is known thus far.