Maryland officials reported 404 new cases of the coronavirus Tuesday, ending two days of declines in newly confirmed cases, while 18 more people have died from the disease
Tuesday’s additions bring the state’s total to 65,007 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 illness caused by the virus since it first appeared in mid-March. To date, 2,963 people have died due to the disease or complications from it.
While Tuesday marked an increase in new cases over the 297 reported Monday, the number of hospitalizations due to the disease dropped significantly. As of Tuesday, 561 people in Maryland are hospitalized due to COVID-19, 41 fewer than Monday. A week ago, there were 181 more patients hospitalized due to the disease.
The statewide testing positivity rate is at 5.06%, a slight increase from 5.03% Monday.
As the state has stepped up its ability to test for COVID-19, reporting 10,360 newly completed cases in the past 24 hours, some have criticized Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration for how the tests have been allocated.
Maryland’s Department of Juvenile Services has yet to test all of the youths and staff members at its facilities, drawing the ire of critics who have pointed to Hogan’s statement last month proclaiming there would be universal testing at all department facilities.
Carroll County officials said Monday they’ve identified a spike of 15 more cases at the Central Maryland Correctional Facility in Sykesville after it conducted universal testing. Two inmates at the facility have died due to the disease.
As Hogan has further lifted statewide restrictions on businesses and social gatherings, many municipalities and counties have announced that they will allow some establishments like restaurants and churches to reopen in a limited capacity.
Baltimore City, which had a positivity test rate of 5.32% Tuesday, allowed restaurants, churches and gyms to reopen in a limited capacity beginning last Friday. The Horseshoe Casino Baltimore also was allowed to reopen at 50% capacity with other safeguards.
There are conflicting guidelines as to what rate of positive COVID-19 tests states should reach before reopening businesses and lifting business restrictions.
Gov. Larry Hogan has cited a guideline from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommends reopenings after two weeks of a positivity rate of less than 15%. The CDC recommendation for even further reopenings is another two weeks of positivity rates below 10%.
Johns Hopkins University, meanwhile, compares states to a World Health Organization standard of 5% positivity rate for two weeks. By the Hopkins calculation, Maryland is at 4.8% as of Tuesday, moving into the group of 30 states that meet the WHO guidelines.
The state’s Hispanic population continues to contract the disease at a disproportionately higher rate than other demographic groups. Hispanics accounted for more than a quarter of all confirmed COVID-19 cases, 17,670, despite the fact that they represent 10.4% of the state’s population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
This does not account for the fact that the state does not have demographic data on about one out of every six diagnosed cases.
The 20783 ZIP code — which includes parts of Hyattsville, Adelphi and Langley Park in Prince George’s County and is majority Hispanic, according to censusreporter.org — leads the state in total cases with 2,207 as of Tuesday.
Black Maryland residents continue to lead the state in total COVID-19 cases, with 18,753 as of Tuesday, despite the fact that they represent 30.9% of the state’s population.
For comparison, state officials have confirmed 12,747 cases of COVID-19 in white patients, a demographic that constitutes 58.8% of Maryland’s population.
Prince George’s and Montgomery counties continue to lead the state in total cases, with 18,080 and 14,204, respectively, and 208 of Tuesday’s newly reported cases. The two counties represent a little more than half of all confirmed cases in the state.
While the two counties continue to see higher positive testing rates, they’ve also seen their rates decrease at a similar pace as the rest of the state since May.
As of Tuesday, Prince George’s County has a positivity rate of 8.46% and Montgomery County was at 6.55%.