As Maryland officials reported 501 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus Monday and three new deaths associated with COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.
Maryland has had at least 127,791 infections and 3,817 deaths since the state began tracking the pandemic in March.
The number of people hospitalized increased by 18 Monday to a total of 338, the state reported. Of those patients, 85 require intensive care, eight more than the day before.
Maryland’s seven-day average testing positivity rate is 3.02%, state officials reported. The state’s positivity rate has risen for the past 10 straight days, surpassing 3% Sunday for the first time since Sept. 18.
Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus resource center, which calculates the positivity rate differently than the state health department, reports that Maryland’s rolling, seven-day positivity rate was 5.94% as of Sunday. While Maryland uses the total number of tests conducted to determine the state’s positivity rate, Hopkins uses the people tested. That means individuals who are tested multiple times, regardless of their results, are counted only once in the university’s calculation.
The World Health Organization recommends governments see 14 consecutive days where fewer than 5% of samples come back positive for the virus before easing virus-related restrictions.
Republican Gov. Larry Hogan loosened more restrictions last week, allowing for certain indoor visits at nursing homes and removing restrictions on child care facilities.
More than 75% of the state’s cases came from five jurisdictions — Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Prince George’s and Montgomery counties and Baltimore City — in the populated Baltimore-Washington corridor. More than 65% of Marylanders live in those five areas.
Maryland’s second-most populous jurisdiction, Prince George’s County, continues to lead the state with 30,088 total cases, as of Monday, while Montgomery County has had the most fatalities, with 810 deaths confirmed to have been caused by the coronavirus since March.
Somerset County, where a dozen new coronavirus cases were confirmed Monday, is Maryland’s only county reporting a seven-day positivity rate of more than 5%, with a rate of 6.02%.
A total of 311 people have tested positive for the virus in Somerset since March, but fewer than 30,000 people live in the rural Eastern Shore county, making it more susceptible to fluctuating rates based on new tests.
The virus has continued to disproportionately affect Black and Latino people.
Black people, who represent only about 30% of Maryland’s population, account for about 37% of the state’s confirmed coronavirus cases and 41% of the deaths for which the patient’s race was known.
Latino people, who make up only 10% of the state population, represent about 25% of the confirmed cases and 12% of the deaths for which the patient’s race was known.
White people, who account for about 60% of the population, have accounted for a smaller but growing share of the state’s cases after representing less than a quarter of all cases in mid-July. They made up about 30% of the confirmed cases and 43% of the deaths for which the patient’s race was known.
Maryland lacks racial data for 19,354 of its total confirmed cases and 10 deaths, state officials say.
COVID-19 is deadliest for people older than 65 and those with pre-existing conditions or compromised immune systems. People older than 70 made up 70% of the deaths confirmed to have been caused by the disease.
Two of the people whose deaths were reported Monday were men and the other was a woman. One was in their 60s and the other two were in their 70s, according to state data. Deaths are not always reported the same day they occur.
People in their 20s, 30s and 40s made up 53% of the total confirmed cases but just 5% of the deaths, as of Monday.
The official death toll does not include another 144 victims whose infections weren’t confirmed by a laboratory test.
Baltimore Sun reporters Phil Davis and Nathan Ruiz contributed to this article.