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Hopkins doctor counters Trump claim that coronavirus is ‘fading away’ as Maryland reports 350 new cases

Maryland health officials reported 350 new coronavirus cases in the state on Sunday, as hospitalizations from the virus continue to decline.

The state has confirmed 64,306 total cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, since the first positive cases were recorded in Maryland in early March.

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A total of 2,937 Marylanders have died from the virus since March, including 14 new deaths reported on Sunday. Another 129 people in Maryland have likely died due to the virus, but their cases haven’t been confirmed through lab tests.

A total of 608 Marylanders are being treated in the hospital for coronavirus, down from 644 the day before. Of those patients, 230 are in intensive care, eight fewer than the day before.

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Maryland reported that the seven-day average of positive tests is 5.03%, with the one-day positivity rate at 5.23%.

Public health officials have offered conflicting guidelines on what a sufficient positivity rate is for governments to relax restrictions that were put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Gov. Larry Hogan has cited a guideline from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommends reopenings after two weeks of a positivity rate of less than 15%.

The CDC recommendation for even further reopenings is another two weeks of positivity rates below 10%.

Johns Hopkins University, meanwhile, compares states to a World Health Organization standard of 5% positivity rate for two weeks. By the Hopkins calculation, Maryland is at 4.95%, moving into the group of 30 states that meet the WHO guidelines.

Maryland has gradually allowed more businesses to open and activities to take place over the last two months. Baltimore City, which had long kept more restrictions in place than surrounding jurisdictions, on Friday allowed limited indoor dining and the opening of pools, houses of worship, salons, gyms and attractions such as the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore and the National Aquarium.

Health experts caution that Americans need to remain vigilant about the coronavirus, even as states continue to relax restrictions.

Dr. Tom Inglesby, director of the Center for Health Security at Johns Hopkins University, countered recent remarks from President Donald Trump, who claimed the virus is “fading away.”

“It’s not fading away,” Inglesby told “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace. “The U.S. has more cases than it’s had in many, many weeks. If you compare us to other parts of the world, our numbers are on the rise.”

Inglesby, who also advises Hogan, said the coronavirus remains a “serious, serious pandemic.” He urged governors to “double down” in emphasizing prevention measures, such as wearing face coverings, avoiding gatherings, staying at a distance from others and frequently washing hands or using hand sanitizer.

Coronavirus cases and deaths at the state’s nursing homes remain a concern, though Hogan announced Friday that homes could resume outdoor visits between residents and family members. Nursing home employees now must be tested for the virus every week, and residents will be tested weekly at homes that have active cases.

A Baltimore Sun analysis found flaws in the state’s reporting of cases and deaths at nursing homes. The state had dropped confirmed cases and deaths from homes that no longer had “active” outbreaks from the statewide totals, leading to an underreporting of the scope of the virus.

The Sun also reported last week that state regulators did not conduct any in-person inspections at nursing homes for more than a month this spring, because they lacked sufficient protective equipment.

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