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Maryland finishes 2020 reporting 5,727 coronavirus deaths, 276,662 confirmed cases

Maryland reported 46 deaths tied to COVID-19 on the last day of 2020, along with 2,973 new coronavirus cases. The state also had its highest positivity rate since early June for the second straight day.

The new figures capped off Maryland’s coronavirus numbers reported in the calendar year: 5,727 people died and 276,662 cases were confirmed.

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Models from the University of Washington project Maryland will surpass 10,000 deaths by April 1, 2021.

In December alone, 1,241 Marylanders have died of the virus, the most of any month except May. In November and December, Maryland reported a total of 1,727 deaths, or 30% of the state’s pandemic total.

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In these two months, Maryland has added 131,381confirmed virus cases — more than 47% of the pandemic total — setting new records for hospitalizations and case averages along the way. There has been about one confirmed case per 22 Marylanders, and about one death per 1,050 Marylanders.

The state’s reported seven-day positivity rate was 8.52%, up from 8.22% Wednesday — which was the highest since early June.

The state reported 1,773 people hospitalized with virus-related complications Thursday, up from 1,756 Wednesday. Hospitalizations have been above 1,600 since Dec. 8 and hit a pandemic high of 1,799 on Dec. 15.

Among those hospitalized, 399 required intensive care, down from 410 Wednesday.

The grim tallies come amid a glimmer of hope. COVID-19 vaccines are on their way into Marylanders’ arms, but have been making slower progress than expected.

As of Wednesday, more than 80% of the 191,075 vaccine doses from Pifzer and Moderna had not been given yet in Maryland. A report Tuesday from Bloomberg ranked Maryland last in vaccine rollout among states evaluated in the report.

As of Thursday, 47,012 Marylanders received vaccine doses, or 0.78% of the state’s population.

Nearly 26,000 people have been vaccinated in the Baltimore metro area (which the state defines as Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford and Howard counties and Baltimore City), by far the most of any of the state’s regions.

The next closest is the “National Capital Region” (defined as Charles, Frederick, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties), with 9,352 people vaccinated, or 0.39% of the area’s population. That’s well below the Baltimore metro area’s 0.94% of its population vaccinated.

Maryland’s Eastern Shore has seen the highest share of its population vaccinated at 1.13%. Western Maryland has seen 2,009 people vaccinated, or 0.8% of its overall population.

A new variant of the virus believed to be more transmissible has also reached the U.S.’s shores. On Wednesday, California reported the country’s second confirmed case of the variant.

The Maryland Department of Health is working with partners to track the new strain but has not detected it yet in Maryland, department spokesman Charlie Gischlar said Thursday afternoon.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are collaborating with the Maryland Health Department’s public health lab, as well as state laboratories in California and Delaware, to test for the variant.

A faster-spreading COVID-19 variant could have devastating consequences for the U.S. health care system as the nation experiences a surge of infections, hospitalizations and deaths. It also raises questions about the variant’s pathway into the U.S., as well as its receptiveness to now-routine treatment and testing methods.

Montgomery and Prince George’s counties have reported the most deaths during the pandemic, at 1,081 and 1,058, respectively. Baltimore County has reported the third-most with 904, with Baltimore City reporting the fourth-most at 683.

Among those reported to have died Thursday, all but eight were in their 60s or older. The exceptions were five people in their 40s and three in their 50s.

People in their 60s or older have made up more than 87% of the state’s deaths, and people in their 50s or older have made up more than 95%.

Black residents have disproportionately died from the virus, representing about 31% of the state’s population but about 37% of deaths in which race was known as of Thursday.

Baltimore Sun reporter Hallie Miller contributed to this article.

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