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Maryland reports 648 newly confirmed coronavirus cases, 6 new deaths

Maryland reported 648 newly confirmed cases of the coronavirus Thursday and six more deaths, a slight decrease in new cases after the state saw two straight days of more than 700.

Thursday’s additions bring the state’s total to 75,664 cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus. In total, 3,215 people have died in Maryland due to the disease or complications from it since officials began tracking the virus in March.

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As of Thursday, 436 people in Maryland are hospitalized due to complications from COVID-19, 11 fewer patients than Wednesday. Officials reported that 299 were in acute care units, 19 fewer than Wednesday, while 137 are in intensive care units, eight more than Wednesday.

The statewide seven-day average testing positivity rate is at 4.61%, a slight increase from Wednesday’s rate of 4.49%.

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However, Johns Hopkins University, which calculates the rate differently, has Maryland’s positivity rate at 5.40% as of Thursday, putting it on a list of 33 states with higher than recommended positivity rates. The World Health Organization recommends that governments have a seven-day average rate below 5% for 14 days before they begin reopening measures.

State officials calculate the positivity rate by dividing the number of positive tests by the total testing volume over a seven-day period. Hopkins, on the other hand, uses the number of people tested, or the combination of new cases and the number of people who tested negative.

As of Thursday, six Maryland counties and municipalities have seven-day average testing positivity rates above the recommended 5% rate, including Talbot County (8.34%), Prince George’s County (6.47%), Baltimore City (6.42%), Queen Anne’s County (5.88%), Charles County (5.52%) and Baltimore County (5.43%).

Prince George’s County, the state’s second most populated county, continues to lead the state in total cases, with 20,191 as of Monday.

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 with 2,450 total cases as of Thursday.

Baltimore City has 8,998 total cases of the coronavirus, according to state officials. The 21224 and 21215 ZIP codes continue to lead the city, with 1,411 and 928 cases, respectively.

The pandemic continues to disproportionately affect the state’s Black and Latino populations. Roughly two-thirds of the state’s confirmed COVID-19 cases where data on race was available, 41,937, were Black or Hispanic residents. The two demographic groups represent less than half the state’s population.

In comparison, whites, who constitute more than 58% of the state’s population, represented less than a quarter of all confirmed cases with 15,599.

However, whites have a higher mortality rate compared with other races, with about 8.75% of 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 13,045 people who have been diagnosed with the coronavirus.

With many businesses still operating at a limited capacity due to the pandemic, tens of thousands of Marylanders continue to file for unemployment.

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The state’s Department of Labor reported Thursday that 37,383 claims for unemployment aid were filed last week.

While the number of claims is about half the amount filed last week, the state is still seeing exponentially more claims than before businesses were required to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For example, only 2,090 claims were filed the week ending March 7, which was before Gov. Larry Hogan ordered businesses closed in response to the growing pandemic.

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