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Maryland reports 590 new coronavirus cases, nine deaths as hospitalizations continue to increase

Maryland health officials reported 590 new coronavirus cases and nine more deaths Tuesday tied to COVID-19, the illness the virus causes.

New cases in Maryland aren’t considered to be growing in the past week as they are in 32 of 50 states, according to the Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus resource center. Cases are decreasing in just three states and Washington, D.C., while cases are level in Maryland and 14 other states, according to Hopkins' data.

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The new data reported Tuesday bring Maryland to 136,744 total confirmed virus cases and 3‚904 deaths since March, when the pandemic struck the state. Maryland ranks 15th in deaths per capita and 28th in cases per capita among states, according to Hopkins’ data.

Current hospitalizations grew to 464 from 434 Tuesday. The state has seen a spike in hospitalizations since Sept. 20, when 281 people were hospitalized.

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Among those hospitalized, 123 needed intensive care, up from 116 Monday, making it eight straight days the state has seen triple-digit ICU hospitalizations after going most of September and the beginning of October in double-digits.

On Tuesday, New York state again added Maryland to its travel advisory list, which requires visitors from states with “significant community spread” to quarantine for 14 days.

While Hopkins considers Maryland level for the past week, state has seen more new cases so far this month. The 14-day average of newly reported cases hit 610 Tuesday, up from 488 Sept. 30 according to The Baltimore Sun’s coronavirus data. Research suggests that colder fall and winter weather may increase the virus' spread.

The new data came minutes before the state released its two-phase coronavirus vaccine distribution plan. Widespread availability of a potential vaccine is likely months away and no vaccine has yet been approved.

The program would give the vaccine first to health care workers and more at-risk residents, including nursing home and other long-term care residents, those at higher risk due to age or existing health conditions, and essential workers in public safety, nursing homes and education.

That population would represent about 14% of the state’s population, according to initial state estimates. The second phase, which would arrive when the vaccine is available in larger quantities, would aim to vaccinate the population at large.

Older Marylanders continued to bear the brunt of the virus, with all of those who were reported Tuesday to have died from the virus being 60 or older, including five who were 80 or older. Age data was not available for one of the nine newly-reported deaths.

Just 74 state residents in their 20s and 30s have died from the virus, while 3,378 Marylanders age 60 or older have died, accounting for more than 86% of all virus deaths statewide.

But while older Marylanders are much more likely to die from the virus, younger residents represented the bulk of new cases and still are affected by the virus. People in their 20s and 30s accounted for 230 of Tuesday’s 590 new cases, or about 39%. Marylanders in their 40s and 50s represented nearly 31% of Tuesday’s new cases.

Maryland’s reported seven-day positivity rate — which measures the percentage of tests returning positive over a weeklong time frame — was 3.2%, up from 3.14% Monday.

Hopkins, which measures positivity differently than the state, reported Maryland’s rate at 2.29% as of Monday, about level from the day before and the eighth-lowest among states. On Friday, the university’s data provider switched how it calculates its positivity rate, which has lowered the center’s figure in Maryland.

The university’s data center used to calculate the metric using the number of people tested instead of the number of total tests, as the state calculates its positivity rate. Instead, Hopkins now uses all viral tests performed in its positivity rate formula.

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Prince George’s County had the most cases per capita in the state as of Tuesday’s data, according to the Sun’s database, with 34.77 cases per 1,000 residents. The next-closest was Baltimore City, with 28.54 confirmed cases per 1,000 residents.

Prince George’s County has seen a spike in positivity rates, with a 5.06% positivity rate as of Monday, up from 3.81% Oct. 11 and well above the state’s 3.2%.

The virus has disproportionately hit Black and Latino communities across the nation. As of Tuesday, Black and Latino Marylanders combined for nearly 62% of total virus cases in which race was known thus far despite representing less than half of the state’s population.

Baltimore Sun reporters Pamela Wood and Christine Condon contributed to this article.

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