The Maryland health department reported 1,500 new cases of the coronavirus across the state Saturday, along with 41 more deaths from the disease.
It was the third day in a row with 1,500 or more new cases after the daily counts dropped below 1,000 earlier in the week, with testing down due to the wintry weather. But even the past three days’ case counts were lower than all but one day in January, suggesting that the post-holiday surge in COVID-19 infections may be easing.
The data show a downward trend in the state’s seven-day average of new cases. As of Friday, the state averaged 22.11 daily cases per 100,000 residents, down from 23.52 Wednesday and far below Maryland’s pandemic peak of 53.39 on Jan. 12.
The latest rate was also significantly below the current national average of new cases, which was 39.1 for every 100,000 residents Friday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Data from the CDC indicate that Maryland has been faring better recently than surrounding states. New infections per capita have been much higher in Pennsylvania, Virginia and Delaware, with the latter two showing new cases above the national average over the last week. According to the CDC, Virginia averaged 39.4 cases and Delaware more than 40 per day for the week ending Friday.
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Overall, Maryland’s rate of cases per 100,000 has been lower than that of other states in the region, including West Virginia, since the start of the pandemic.
However, Maryland’s rate of COVID-19 deaths per capita, at 120, was higher than Virginia’s (78), West Virginia’s (116) and Delaware’s (116) over the last year. Only Pennsylvania had a higher death rate, at 172 per capita.
The state latest numbers Saturday bring the cumulative case count to 362,084, with 7,150 fatalities since the start of the pandemic.
The state health department reported 1,419 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 Saturday, down 25 from the day before. Of those, 337 required intensive care, four fewer than Friday.
Maryland also reported completing 44,028 coronavirus tests, with a small decrease in the state’s testing positivity rate. That figure dropped slightly to 5.83%, down from 5.94% a day earlier.
During the last two weeks, the hot spots for infections in Maryland have been in rural counties on the Eastern Shore. Dorchester, Somerset, Caroline and Talbot counties each averaged more than 25 new cases per 100,000 residents over the past week, led by Dorchester with 41.16.
By contract, all the jurisdictions in the Baltimore region were below the state average of 22.11 cases per 100,000 save Anne Arundel County at 23.08. In the Washington suburbs, new cases remain above the state average in Prince Georges County with 27.65 per 100,000, but as with most state jurisdictions it is trending down.