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Maryland officials report 1,747 newly confirmed coronavirus cases, 20 new deaths

Maryland health officials on Sunday reported 1,747 new cases of the coronavirus and 20 more deaths.

Sunday’s additions bring the state’s total to 354,473 cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, and 6,951 people who have died due to the disease or complications from it.

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There are currently 1,471 people in Maryland hospitalized due to complications from COVID-19, according to the state health department, 89 fewer people than Saturday. The state’s seven-day average positivity rate is at 5.66%, a decrease of 0.13 percentage points from the day before.

The state reported that an additional 18,516 people received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in the past 24 hours and that 4,317 people had received their second dose.

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The majority of cases — 64.91% of Sunday’s total — were reported in the state’s five most populous jurisdictions: Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties and Baltimore City. The region represents more than 65% of the state’s population.

Prince George’s County, the state’s second-most populous jurisdiction with roughly 909,000 residents, reported the most new cases Sunday, with 300. The county’s seven-day average positivity rate is 7.23%.

Meanwhile, the county continues to lag behind the rest of the state when it comes to its vaccination rate, as only 3.2% of Prince George’s residents have received their first dose as of Sunday.

Of the five jurisdictions with the largest populations, Baltimore County has the highest vaccination rate as state health officials reported that about 8.68% of the county’s roughly 827,000 residents have received their first dose of the vaccine and 1.94% have gotten their second dose.

Talbot County, a largely rural county of about 37,000 people on the Eastern Shore, has the highest vaccination rate of any jurisdiction in the state. Health officials reported that about 12.62% of its residents have received their first dose and 1.57% have received their second dose. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 30% of the county’s population is 65 years of age or older.

Maryland is in Phase 1C of its vaccination rollout plan, meaning that eligibility has been expanded to include people ages 65 to 74, more public safety and health workers, and certain essential workers. Some hospitalized, immunocompromised patients will become eligible Monday.

Front-line health care workers, first responders, nursing home residents and staff, people 75 and older, some teachers and school staff, residents of assisted living facilities, those in group homes and other congregate living facilities, as well as high-risk inmates and jail detainees are also eligible for the vaccine.

While the state has seen case rates decline since Jan. 16, when health officials reported 3,292 cases, more variants of the coronavirus have been reported in the state this month.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced Saturday that state officials detected the first case of the South African variant of the coronavirus, known as the B.1.351 variant, in the Baltimore area. The variant is not believed to cause a more serious illness, but officials worry that it may be more contagious and vaccines in development by Novavax and Johnson & Johnson have proved less effective against it.

Some studies show people who have received the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines currently being distributed could produce antibodies against the new variant, but true clinical studies have yet to confirm their effectiveness.

In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported seven cases of the United Kingdom variant of the coronavirus, know as the B.1.1.7 variant, have been identified in Maryland. The variant is also considered to be more transmissible. However, Pfizer-BioNTech officials have reported that their current vaccine is likely to be just as effective against the UK variant.

Of the 20 people reported Sunday to have died from the virus, eight were 80 or older and one person was 30 to 39 years old.

White residents accounted for seven of the newly reported deaths where racial data was available, while Black residents represented six of the confirmed deaths. Health officials also reported that two Hispanic residents died due to the virus, one Asian resident and one person whose race is listed as “other.” (Death and the race of the victims are sometimes reported on different days.)

Of the 1,581 cases reported Sunday for which racial data was available, health officials said 715 cases were diagnosed in white residents, 500 in Black residents, 215 in Hispanic residents, 54 in Asian residents and 97 in other races.

The state does not have racial data available for 50,325 out of 354,473 total cases as of Sunday.

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