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Maryland reports 2,201 new coronavirus cases, 54 deaths

Maryland reported 2,201 new cases of COVID-19 Saturday and 54 more deaths related to the coronavirus.

The new figures bring the state’s total cases during the pandemic to at least 248,754 and the death toll to 5,242.

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Routinely for the past few weeks, the state has reported more than 2,000 new virus cases daily, including every day in December so far. The state is under new travel restrictions ahead of the Christmas holiday.

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan this week urged residents to avoid nonessential travel during the holidays. An emergency order requires residents traveling out of state and people traveling to Maryland to get tested for COVID-19, though neighboring states are exempt.

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With economic pain continuing alongside the health crisis, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott announced a $5.3 million plan Friday to supply 20,000 boxes of food a week for city residents disproportionately affected by the pandemic. The program will run through March 31.

“As we approach the new year, many Baltimoreans are concerned about losing valuable federal resources that will expire in the new term,” the Democratic mayor said in a statement. “With this initiative, the city will be able to ensure there is no gap in support to feed our families over the next few months.”

The boxes will be distributed to Baltimore families across 100 sites throughout the city. Scott said the city also would expand its grocery home delivery program.

Meanwhile, a legal fight is playing out over the restaurant dining ban in the city and restrictions in other populous jurisdictions.

The Maryland Restaurant Association announced lawsuits Friday against Baltimore City and Prince George’s County, challenging their local dining restrictions. A separate but similar suit was filed against Montgomery County. Earlier in the week, an Anne Arundel County judge issued an injunction blocking that county’s ban on indoor and outdoor dining.

Scott has defended the city’s restrictions, saying “what we did was guided by public health science and advice.”

In the Baltimore region, eight new coronavirus-related deaths were reported Saturday in the city; seven in Baltimore County; four in Anne Arundel County, and one each in Carroll, Harford and Howard counties.

Of those jurisdictions, Baltimore County reported the most new cases Saturday — 248 — followed by Anne Arundel County with 232 new cases.

Across the state, there are 1,635 people hospitalized with complications tied to the virus, down by 51 people from the previous day. Hospitalizations reached a pandemic high Tuesday of 1,799. Of those hospitalized, 385 people required intensive care Saturday, 14 fewer than Friday.

Of the new cases reported across the state Saturday, people in their 30s made up the largest share, with 398 cases in that age group.

The state seven-day average testing positivity rate Saturday was 7.83%, up slightly from Friday.

Baltimore Sun reporter Phillip Jackson contributed to this article.

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