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Maryland’s COVID-19 death toll mounts as state reports 51 new deaths, 2,324 new cases

Maryland’s death toll continues to rise, as the state reported 51 more deaths Tuesday tied to COVID-19, along with 2,324 new coronavirus cases.

With 867 coronavirus deaths so far this month, December has become Maryland’s third deadliest month since April and May during the pandemic’s first wave.

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The state’s 14-day average of new deaths reported daily climbed to 43 Tuesday after being in single digits as recently as Nov. 12. The pandemic high of 52 for that average was set in May.

Among Tuesday’s reported fatalities, all but three were 60 or older, with the exceptions being a person in their 30s and two people in their 50s. More than 87% of the people who have died have been in 60 or older, with people 80 or older accounting for more than 2,500 deaths statewide.

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The state reported 1,717 people hospitalized with virus-related complications Tuesday, up 41 from Monday. Hospitalizations have risen for three straight days, but remain below the pandemic high of 1,799 from a week ago. Among those hospitalized, 400 required intensive care, one more than Monday.

The state now has reported 1,000 or more virus cases for 49 consecutive days and 2,000 or more cases for 25 of past 28 days, including every day in December, after never doing so before mid-November.

Maryland has added more than 110,000 confirmed cases in November and December, about 43% of the state’s cases during the pandemic.

The state’s 14-day new daily case average has fallen from a pandemic high of 2,757 Dec. 14 to 2,531 Tuesday.

The state’s reported seven-day positivity rate was 7.47%, down from 7.72% Monday. The daily positivity rate reported Tuesday was 6.87%. The state reported its third-highest testing volume ever Tuesday at 55,698, behind just two days this month.

The numbers came a day after Gov. Larry Hogan announced that more than 100,000 doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine have begun shipping to Maryland. The state says it will have enough doses to vaccinate about 90% of its front-line hospital workers by the end of the week.

Pfizer’s vaccine started rolling out in Maryland last week, with health care workers as well as nursing home residents and employees first in line for doses.

The new data bring the state to a total of 255,397 confirmed virus cases and 5,353 deaths since March.

Western Maryland still has some of the state’s highest case rates even though the virus surge has cooled off in recent days.

Rural Allegany County still had the state’s highest seven-day average case rate per 100,000 people, up from 84.4 Saturday to 89.67 Monday, but well below the county’s pandemic high of 198.41 Dec. 6. For comparison, the statewide average was 38.07 Monday

Washington County, Allegany’s eastern neighbor, has seen its seven-day average case rate per 100,000 people dip, going from 87.48 Thursday to 78.03 Monday. That’s still up significantly from 55.61 as of Dec. 3.

The seven-day average case rate per 100,000 people in Garrett County, Allegany County’s western neighbor, fell from 122.11 Dec. 6 to 74.35 Monday.

Montgomery County also has seen its seven-day average case rate per 100,000 people fall in recent days, going from 44.95 Wednesday (about the state average at the time) to 33.31 as of Monday, below the statewide average of 38.07.

Amid the pandemic, Hogan plans to celebrate Christmas with only his wife, Yumi, following his own advice. They’re foregoing their traditional gathering with their children and grandchildren, out of concern for contributing to the spread of the coronavirus.

The situation is “a little sad” but necessary, said Hogan, a Republican, during an interview Tuesday on WBAL Radio. The Hogans plan to video chat with their family instead.

Asked about when he’ll get the coronavirus vaccine, Hogan said he expects that won’t happen until sometime after the New Year. Hogan, who has promised to get the vaccine on camera, said he wouldn’t do so until after key healthcare workers and nursing home residents and employees are vaccinated.

Baltimore Sun reporter Pamela Wood contributed to this story.

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