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Maryland reports 860 COVID cases, 10 more deaths as Gov. Larry Hogan defends lifting capacity restrictions

Maryland health officials reported 860 new coronavirus infections Sunday, dropping back below 1,000 daily cases, as Gov. Larry Hogan defended his decision last week to lift capacity restrictions for restaurants, gyms, store and other establishments during an appearance Sunday morning on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Arguing that many of Maryland’s coronavirus metrics are “better than they’ve been in many, many months,” Hogan said: “We kept the most serious mitigation measures in place, which is masking and distancing, which many states have changed.

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“I think we took kind of a balanced approach.”

Here’s how the state’s latest metrics tracking the spread of the virus and its vaccination campaign stood Sunday morning:

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Cases

The state reported 860 newly confirmed cases of the coronavirus Sunday, dropping back below 1,000 daily cases after health officials reported 1,101 new cases Saturday. It was the first time since Feb. 19 the state eclipsed the 1,000-case mark.

Since March 1, the state has averaged about 767 new cases per day and has now reported 393,441 cases total since health officials first started tracking the disease in March 2020.

During an appearance Sunday morning on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Hogan defended his decision to lift capacity restrictions for bars, restaurants, gyms and retail stores last week, arguing that many of Maryland’s coronavirus metrics are “better than they’ve been in many, many months.”

”We kept the most serious mitigation measures in place, which is masking and distancing, which many states have changed,” Hogan said. “I think we took kind of a balanced approach.”

While many county officials accepted the governor’s latest directive, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott enacted an order Friday that requires bars and restaurants to only seat patrons at 50% capacity outdoors and 25% indoors. Health officials reported 134 cases of the coronavirus in the city Sunday, or about 15.58% of all cases in Maryland.

In addition, many local businesses have said they will not be able to open at 100% capacity as the governor’s order permits because of distancing requirements for customers.

Deaths

Health officials reported that 10 more people died due to complications from COVID-19, bringing the total up to 7,866 people who have died from the disease in the state.

Since March 1, an average of 12 people per day have died from the coronavirus or complications from it.

Hospitalizations

The state reported that one more person was hospitalized with the coronavirus, bringing the state total up to 774 people currently hospitalized. The number in intensive care jumped, however, by 14 to 210.

Vaccinations

Health officials reported that 39,714 total doses of the vaccine — first and second doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines as well as single doses of the newly approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine — were administered in the past 24 hours. It’s a dip of roughly 16,500 doses compared to Saturday, when the state reported administering a record of 56,000 shots.

On average, 42,705 people have received shots daily over the past seven days, Hogan wrote on Twitter.

Currently, 688,005 people, or roughly 11.38% of Maryland’s population, have been fully vaccinated against the virus, meaning they’ve either received their second shot of the Pfizer or Modern vaccine or received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson.

The state is reporting that 1,189,399 people have gotten at least their first dose of either of the two-dose vaccines, accounting for roughly 19.67% of the state’s population.

In his CNN interview Sunday morning, Hogan also defended Maryland’s vaccination tallies, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has tallied nearly 45,000 more administered doses and 315,000 more doses distributed to state vaccination sites than state health officials as of Sunday.

The CDC’s numbers show a wider discrepancy of the number of doses delivered to the state versus those actually administered, as the agency’s statistics show that about 79.1% of distributed vaccines have been administered, compared to the state’s count of 88.7%.

“The percentage of vaccination is based on false numbers because the federal government’s counting doses that went to their federal agencies that we don’t have anything to do with or have any control over,” Hogan said.

The CDC has said previously that it’s looking into the discrepancy.

Hogan also touted Maryland’s No. 1 ranking when it comes to administering the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine and said 65% of the state’s eligible population has been at least partially vaccinated.

A poll released last week by Goucher College showed that 54% of Maryland Republicans plan to get the vaccine or already had, compared to 71% of Democrats.

Tapper asked Hogan whether he blamed former Republican President Donald Trump for the trend, as national polls show that Republicans are less likely to have received a vaccine or intend to do so in the future.

”It certainly didn’t help any with his messaging throughout the pandemic on masking, and not speaking out strongly enough on the vaccines, but you can’t pin all of it on him,” Hogan said. “I mean, there’s a lot of disinformation campaigns out there from the right and the left.”

Vaccines by age:

State health officials reported that 58.74% of Maryland’s 65 and older population has received at least one dose of the vaccine. According to the CDC, about 62.8% of people ages 65 and older in the United States have received at least their first dose of the vaccine and 34.4% of the country’s 65 and older population have been fully vaccinated.

Vaccines by race and ethnicity:

White people have received about 67.86% of vaccine doses administered where racial data was available, getting about 3.4 times as many doses as Black people in the state. About 58.5% of Maryland residents are white, while about 31% are Black.

Latino or Hispanic residents, who make up about 11% of the state’s population, have received about 4% of the doses for which the recipients’ ethnicity was known.

Vaccines by county:

Prince George’s County, a majority-Black county and Maryland’s second-most populated jurisdiction, continues to lag behind the rest of the state in vaccination rate, with about 6.24% of its population fully inoculated as of Sunday, compared to the 11.38% statewide average.

Charles County, another majority-Black county with a population of roughly 163,000 people, also lags the state average with about 8.02% of its total population fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Baltimore City, another majority-Black jurisdiction and Maryland’s fourth-most populous jurisdiction, ranks as the fourth lowest for fully vaccinated residents, with about 9.77% of city residents fully inoculated against the coronavirus.

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Meanwhile, rural counties with large populations of residents ages 65 or older continue to lead the state in vaccination rates.

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Worcester, Talbot and Kent counties — rural counties where white residents are more than 81% of their population and at least 27% of residents are 65 years or older — are all now reporting that more than 16.8% of their populations are now fully inoculated against the coronavirus. In addition, each county is reporting that more than a fourth of residents have received at least their first dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

Positivity rate

For the fourth day in a row, Maryland’s rate of positive tests increased slightly, albeit by a minuscule amount. The state health department Sunday said the state’s current average seven-day rolling positivity rate was 3.73%, an increase of .01 percentage points compared to Saturday.

Variants

Maryland has identified 232 COVID-19 cases caused by more contagious variants of the coronavirus, according to data from the CDC released Sunday.

Cases caused by variants first detected in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil have been discovered by laboratory genome tests in Maryland. Roughly three months after the first case was identified, there have been 209 infections caused by the U.K. variant. It’s expected to become the dominant strain in the United States soon, with scientists saying it’s likely more fatal than the first strain of the coronavirus.

There has been just one case of the strain first found in Brazil, while labs have discovered 22 cases caused by the virus mutation initially identified in South Africa.

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