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Maryland sees 1,071 new COVID-19 cases and 38 deaths as hospitalizations again decline

Maryland has confirmed 1,071 new cases of COVID-19 since Friday, officials announced Saturday morning, as the number of hospitalizations again declined.

State officials also announced 38 more people died due to complications from the disease, bringing the state’s total to 2,130 fatalities. In addition, officials say, 113 people have probably died due to the disease or complications of it, but are awaiting laboratory results to confirm their diagnosis.

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State officials say 1,320 people in Maryland are currently hospitalized for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, with 524 in intensive care. That represents a slight decrease from the 1,329 total hospitalizations seen Friday, when that figure reached its lowest point since April 19.

Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration considers the number of hospitalizations the most important metric to track in the state’s recovery.

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The governor kicked off the first phase of the state’s reopening plan this week without consulting other county executives or local leaders. Many have diverged from Hogan, with some jurisdictions maintaining restrictions or moving at a slower pace than what the governor outlined in his amendment to the stay-at-home order.

If the first phase goes well, officials may continue on to the second phase of allowing “medium-risk” activities, which would enable significantly more activities and is predicted to last much longer than the first phase.

Examples of medium-risk activities include: reopening businesses with social distancing measures and masking in place, allowing more than 10 people to gather, holding indoor fitness classes, reopening child care centers, resuming regular public transportation schedules, holding indoor religious services, and allowing restaurants and bars to reopen with restrictions.

State officials said 3,354 more coronavirus tests have come back negative since Friday, for a total of 186,832.

Hogan announced Saturday the launch of an interactive map of COVID-19 testing sites that residents can use to find nearby testing locations, hours and appointment policies. More sites will be added in coming weeks, Hogan said in a social media post.

Prince George’s and Montgomery counties continue to lead the state in total cases, with 13,324 and 9,699, respectively. Dr. Deborah Birx, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, said during a Friday news briefing that Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, as well as Washington and Northern Virginia, have the highest positive coronavirus test return rate in the country, followed by Baltimore.

More than half of the state’s fatalities related to COVID-19 have been traced back to nursing home residents, state data shows.

Nursing homes in Maryland have fared poorer than those in nearly every other state. Maryland health department officials have not answered questions about why that could be.

A reporting partnership between The New York Times and The Baltimore Sun found that COVID-19 cases among nursing homes tended to reveal troubling disparities among those that service more people of color compared to those with predominantly white residents.

State data on rates of infection continues to show disparities across categories of race and ethnicity. Officials say 13,527 black Marylanders have tested positive for the virus and 891 have died. Although black Marylanders account for about 31% of the state’s population, they account for about 42% of the state’s fatalities.

Hispanic people face one of the highest rates of infection of any race or ethnic group in Maryland, with a total of 11,035 having tested positive and at least 187 fatalities. That accounts for about 24% of Maryland’s confirmed cases, even though about 10% of the state’s population is Hispanic.

Baltimore Sun reporters Hallie Miller and Pamela Wood contributed to this article.

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