Maryland officials reported 330 new cases of the coronavirus Wednesday and 15 more deaths.
Wednesday’s additions bring the state’s total to 65,337 cases of the infection since it first appeared in mid-March. To date, 2,978 people have died due to the COVID-19 illness caused by the virus or complications from it.
As of Wednesday, 544 people in Maryland are hospitalized due to complications from COVID-19, 17 fewer than Tuesday.
The statewide testing positivity rate is at 5.17%, a slight increase from 5.06% Tuesday.
Maryland also saw another decrease in active coronavirus cases in the state’s nursing homes and assisted living facilities, despite increased testing throughout the state.
Nursing homes have become a focus of the state’s coronavirus response because they account for 1,880 deaths, or nearly ⅔ of all virus-related deaths in the state.
According to the state, 4,546 residents have tested positive for COVID-19 at facilities considered to be in the middle of active outbreaks, a 19% decrease compared to the roughly 5,500 such cases last week.
The state considers facilities that have either a newly confirmed COVID-19 case or death in the past week to be dealing with an “active” outbreak.
In addition, there was a 20% decrease in active cases among staff, down to 2,258 as of this week. According to the state, an additional 50 people at nursing homes were confirmed to have died from COVID-19 in the past week.
In all, 12,462 coronavirus cases have been confirmed at the state’s nursing homes, assisted living facilities and group homes, or nearly one out of every five cases in the state.
As the daily number of cases continues to plateau — the state has reported fewer than 500 cases every day since June 17 — municipalities have begun to allow more businesses to reopen with additional social distancing guidelines in place.
After Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young announced last week that the city would enter its next phase of reopening, several city establishments are set to reopen their doors in the coming days.
The Maryland Zoo reopened Wednesday to members only before opening to the general public on Saturday.
The Baltimore Museum of Art reopened its outdoor sculpture gardens Wednesday and the B & O Railroad Museum will open to the general public Thursday. All of the establishments are instituting social distancing guidelines for visitors.
Major League Baseball reached an agreement with its players Tuesday night to return for a shortened 60-game season set to begin July 23 or 24, with players expected to report July 1 for a spring training-like camp.
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 stood at 4.78% as of Wednesday, 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, 17,738, 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 2,217 as of Wednesday.
Black Maryland residents continue to lead the state in total COVID-19 cases, with 18,831 as of Wednesday, despite the fact that they represent 30.9% of the state’s population.
For comparison, state officials have confirmed 12,797 cases of COVID-19 among whites, who constitute 58.8% of Maryland’s population.
Prince George’s and Montgomery counties continue to lead the state in total cases, with 18,151 and 14,283, respectively, and 150 of Wednesday’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 Wednesday, Prince George’s County has a positivity rate of 8.3% and Montgomery County was at 6.85%.