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Maryland surpasses 2,000 coronavirus cases; 36 have died

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Maryland jumped 17% Thursday to more than 2,000, and scores of out-of-work residents have filed for unemployment benefits as businesses continued to shut their doors in response, state officials said.

Five more people have died in Maryland, bringing the state’s death toll to 36 from COVID-19, the global pandemic that has infected more than 800,000 people and killed nearly 40,000 internationally. The state announced 13 coronavirus deaths Wednesday — the most in one day from the coronavirus, officials said.

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“This fight against the coronavirus is going to take every one of us working together,” Gov. Larry Hogan said Thursday morning on "The Laurie DeYoung Show” on Baltimore’s WPOC radio.

People younger than 50 are infected by the acute respiratory disease just as often as older adults, the governor cautioned listeners. Of the total cases Thursday, 71% were patients younger than 60.

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Hogan, a Republican, said the “vast majority” of Marylanders are following the stay-at-home order he issued on Monday that requires people to stay home except for essential trips such as going to work and getting food or medicine.

He urged people to use “common sense” and observe social distancing recommendations when they do go out.

Due to the coronavirus, Governor Larry Hogan has enacted a Maryland stay-at-home order.

“It really affects everybody, and you’ve got to be safe,” he said.

With 346 new positive coronavirus cases in Maryland, the total is now at least 2,331, according to the state. Another 18,890 COVID-19 tests have come back negative, officials said. Eighty-one people have been released from isolation.

Of the positive cases, 1,194 are women and 1,137 are men.

Nearly 85,000 Maryland residents filed for unemployment last week, providing a glimpse of the escalating economic fallout in the state from the COVID-19 pandemic, as businesses continued to shut their doors.

According to the state Department of Labor, 84,230 Marylanders filed for unemployment either over the phone, online or by mail during the week ending March 28.

They were far from alone: a record 6.6 million Americans across the country filed for unemployment last week.

People are listening to the governor and staying home, if the drop in Maryland Transit Administration ridership is any indication.

Overall bus ridership dropped by more than half last week, and the state-owned MTA plans to temporarily suspend service beginning Monday on 11 routes that are experiencing an average 82% drop in ridership “in order to more efficiently deploy resources to core bus service,” officials said Thursday.

All nine peak-hour Express BusLink routes, many of which duplicate other bus service, and the LocalLink 38 and 92, which primarily serve schools that are now closed, will be temporarily discontinued, the MTA said. To promote social distancing, the agency has added 12 buses at the four bus divisions to be used as break rooms for MTA drivers.

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COVID-19 likely is still spreading in Maryland — due to a lack of tests, officials across the country are unable to know exactly how many people have the disease. New clusters of infections were confirmed in senior citizen facilities across the Baltimore region Wednesday.

Carroll County officials said Thursday that three more cases have been confirmed at Carroll Lutheran Village in Westminster. They include two women and a man, all in their 90s, bringing the total cases at the retirement community to seven — six residents and one staffer.

At Pleasant View Nursing Home in Mount Airy, where the state’s first facility outbreak was reported and five of the 95 residents have died, results for staff tests came through Thursday. Of 63 staffers, 18 have tested positive for COVID-19, 24 tested negative and results are pending for 21. Among residents, there were 77 positive tests.

Health officials also reported seven cases at Genesis Loch Raven Center in Parkville, at least five at Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital in Northwest Baltimore and two at Heritage Center in Dundalk. They involved both residents and staff.

The outbreaks come as alarm is already high in places where large numbers of elderly people live and receive medical treatment, after nearly 80 people contracted the virus at Pleasant View Nursing Home in Mount Airy, and five subsequently died. That outbreak is believed to have begun with an employee who was not showing symptoms of COVID-19 infection, Hogan said.

The Metropolitan Transition Center in Baltimore is on full quarantine after a corrections officer tested positive for the new coronavirus, Maryland’s prison system confirmed late Wednesday.

Baltimore Sun reporters Phil Davis, Pamela Wood, Scott Dance and Justin Fenton contributed to this article.

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