A week before Christmas, Maryland reported 2,569 new coronavirus cases Friday and 36 more deaths tied to COVID-19, the disease the virus causes.
Maryland has reported 702 deaths so far in December — about 13.5% of the state’s overall death toll — after reporting 486 in November and fewer than 200 in October.
The state’s 14-day average of new death reported daily was 40 Friday, the highest it has been since May and up from 13 a month ago. That average peaked at 52 in early May.
Hospitalizations fell for the third straight day from Tuesday’s pandemic high to 1,686, 16 fewer than Thursday. There are now close to 1,200 more people hospitalized than there were at the beginning of November.
Among those hospitalized, 399 required intensive care, up from 394 Thursday. ICU hospitalizations were 270 a month ago.
The state now has reported 1,000 or more virus cases for 45 consecutive days and 2,000 or more cases for 21 of past 24 days, including every day in December, after never doing so before mid-November.
The state’s 14-day average of new cases dipped to 2,669 Friday from 2,756 Thursday
The seven-day case rate per 100,000 people also has been declining, from 48.34 Dec. 10 to 42.84 Thursday.
Ahead of the holidays, traditionally a time of many gatherings, Gov. Larry Hogan said Thursday that Marylanders should limit travel to essential reasons only. A new emergency order requires residents traveling out of state and people traveling to Maryland to get a negative COVID-19 test or quarantine for 10 days with the exceptions of travel to Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington, D.C.
“Our message today is simple: You are safer at home for the holidays this year,” Hogan said at a news conference Thursday. “It will save lives.”
The new data bring the state to a total of 246,553 confirmed virus cases and 5,188 deaths since March.
Western Maryland continued to be hit hard by the virus Friday, with Allegany, Garrett and Washington counties accounting for more than 7% of new cases despite the counties making up about 4% of the state’s population.
Allegany County again had the highest seven-day case rate per 100,000 people as of Thursday, at 109.76. That case rate has dipped from a pandemic high Dec. 6 of 198.41, but the death toll continues to rise, with six new fatalities Friday. There has now been about one case per 14 Allegany residents.
As of Thursday, Allegany’s eastern neighbor, Washington County, had the second-highest seven-day case rate per 100,000 people statewide at 87.48. That’s level with Wednesday but up from 55.61 as of Dec. 3. The county also reported two deaths Friday, bringing its death toll to 110.
Among those reported to have died Friday, all but four were 60 or older, an age group that has accounted for more than 87% of deaths but fewer than 20% of cases during the pandemic. The exceptions were three people in their 40s and one in their 50s.
The positivity rate among younger people is on the rise.
As of Thursday, the seven-day average testing positivity rate among people below the age of 35 was 8.57%, up from 7.92% as of Saturday. The seven-day average positivity rate among people above the age of 35 as of Thursday was more than a full point lower at 7.32%.
The state’s reported seven-day positivity rate was 7.77%, up slightly from 7.73% Thursday. The daily positivity rate reported Friday was 7.04%.
Baltimore Sun reporter Alison Knezevich contributed to this article.