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Maryland reports 557 newly confirmed coronavirus cases, 7 new deaths

Maryland officials reported Saturday that the state has confirmed 557 new cases of the coronavirus and seven more deaths.

Saturday’s additions bring the state’s total to 72,467 cases of the COVID-19 illness caused by the virus. Officials say 3,179 people have died due to the disease or complications from it.

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Saturday also marked the 16th straight day that Maryland had a seven-day average testing positivity rate below 5%, as the state reported a rate of 4.55%. The World Health Organization recommends that governments have a seven-day average rate below 5% for 14 days before they begin reopening measures, although Maryland already began reopening in earnest.

However, Saturday marks the second day this week the state saw more than 500 newly confirmed cases after officials reported 586 new cases on Thursday.

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While other states have set new daily records for deaths and confirmed cases in recent weeks, Maryland has yet to see its daily totals reach the heights of May, when that figure regularly reached above 1,000 new cases.

In addition, seven more people were hospitalized in acute care units with the disease, according to officials, while two patients in intensive care were released. In total, 390 people are currently hospitalized in the state with the disease or complications from it, five more than Friday.

Baltimore has confirmed 8,367 COVID-19 cases as of Saturday and has an average positivity testing rate of 5.66%, above the recommended 5% rate the WHO suggests before reopening businesses. City officials said Thursday they will expand access to COVID-19 testing by implementing new mobile testing sites and additional resources at the current testing site at Pimlico Race Course.

The city’s health commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa said the new resources will look to target hot spots of COVID-19 in the city. Officials will expand testing capacity in the 21224 ZIP code in Southeast Baltimore, which has seen 1,326 COVID-19 cases as of Saturday, the most for a ZIP code in the city.

The diverse ZIP code is 57% white, 19% Hispanic and 16% Black, according to Census data.

The Pimlico Race Course drive-thru testing site opened April 10 in the hard-hit 21215 ZIP code in Northwest Baltimore. As of Saturday, officials have confirmed 893 cases of COVID-19 in the ZIP code, where about four out of every five residents are Black, according to Census data.

The pandemic continues to disproportionately affect the state’s Black and Latino populations. More than two-thirds of the state’s confirmed COVID-19 cases where data on race was available were Black or Hispanic residents. The two demographic groups represent less than half the state’s population.

In comparison, whites, who comprise more than 58% of the state’s population, represented less than a quarter of all confirmed cases with 14,614.

However, whites have a higher mortality rate when compared to other races, with nearly one out of every 10 cases proving fatal.

For comparison, about 6% of cases among Blacks and about 1.9% of cases among Latinos were fatal.

The state has yet to confirm the race of 12,701 people who have been diagnosed with the coronavirus.

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Prince George’s County continues to lead the state in overall cases, with 19,598 confirmed COVID-19 diagnoses as of Saturday. The state’s second-most populated county, which is nearly 65% Black according to the U.S. Census Bureau, has an average positivity testing rate of 6.93% as of Saturday.

Four municipalities and counties — Baltimore City, Talbot County, Queen Anne’s County and Prince George’s County — have average testing rates of above 5%.

The 20783 ZIP code — which includes parts of Hyattsville, Adelphi and Langley Park in Prince George’s County and is majority Hispanic, according to Census data — leads the state in total cases with 2,367 as of Saturday.

Montgomery County has the second-most cases in the state with 15,623. However, it’s the state’s most populated county with an estimated population of over 1 million people as of 2019 and has an average positivity testing rate of 4.52% as of Saturday.

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