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Maryland reports 2,483 new coronavirus cases, 33 more deaths

Maryland reported 2,483 new coronavirus cases and 33 more deaths from the COVID-19 illness on the fourth day of the new year.

The state’s seven-day average testing positivity rate increased for the seventh day in a row to 9.47%. Before this week, the rate hadn’t been greater than 9% since June.

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With Monday’s data, Maryland has now reported 287,802 coronavirus cases and 5,859 deaths from the virus.

On average, cases began declining slightly starting in mid-December, but have ticked back up a week and a half after Christmas. Experts warned that holiday gatherings, coupled with cold weather, could increase cases and stress a hospital system already reeling in the 11th month of an unabating pandemic.

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The state reported completing 35,493 tests Monday, up a bit from Sunday’s reported total of 26,480. On Thursday and Friday, closer to 50,000 tests were announced, and more cases were reported on those days, too — about 2,900 and then roughly 3,500. Testing volume data typically lags 24 hours behind newly reported cases.

Most of Maryland’s highest positivity rates are in counties on the lower Eastern Shore. Worcester, Wicomico and Somerset counties all reported seven-day average positivity rates between 13% and 16%. Only Washington County in Western Maryland reported a higher rate Monday — 17.32%.

This represents something of a shift from late 2020, when the Western Maryland counties of Allegany and Garrett frequently had the highest rates.

Meanwhile, Kent County on the upper Eastern Shore reported the lowest seven-day rate Monday at 6.32%, followed by several counties in the Baltimore region: Howard at 6.86 %, Baltimore City at 7.43% and Baltimore County at 7.64%.

As of Monday, 1,751 Marylanders were hospitalized due to the virus, up from Sunday, when 1,709 people were in state hospitals with COVID-19. Hospitalizations have hovered around 1,700 for weeks. For several months in the late summer and early fall, they didn’t top 600.

Among those hospitalized, 418 needed intensive care Monday, six more than Sunday. The number of COVID-19 patients requiring ICE care has bounced around 400 for a month now.

The latest data comes as states across the country rush to inoculate healthcare workers, armed with two federally approved vaccines.

The state on Monday reported administering 2,112 vaccines, down from 3,617 people reported vaccinated the day before. So far, Maryland has administered 65,692 vaccines, covering about 1% of the state population.

The state’s vaccine distribution efforts have recently come under fire. A Bloomberg News report last week indicated Maryland was distributing vaccines the slowest of the states, having only doled out 10.9% of its allocated doses.

In the Baltimore region, including Baltimore City and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford and Howard counties, about 1.28% of the population has been vaccinated, state data shows. The Baltimore region accounted for about 37% of the state’s newly reported infections on Monday.

The highest percentage of people have been vaccinated in the Eastern Shore region — 1.5%. That region reported fewer than 8% of Monday’s new coronavirus cases in Maryland.

The lowest percentage of vaccinations — 0.58% — is in the populous “National Capital Region,” which includes Charles, Frederick, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. That region reported about 45% of Monday’s new coronavirus cases.

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