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Maryland reports 54 new coronavirus deaths; testing positivity rate dips slightly

Maryland reported 1,956 new coronavirus cases Tuesday and added at least 54 more COVID-19 deaths, the most deaths reported in a day in the new year.

The latest fatalities bring the pandemic’s casualty count to 5,913, though that figure may be higher. An additional 169 people are suspected to have died from the disease, but so far have not been confirmed by laboratory testing, according to data from the Maryland Department of Health.

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Tuesday’s new data, which bring the state’s total number of confirmed coronavirus cases to 289,758, comes as the state’s testing positivity rate dropped for the first time in a week. The seven-day positivity rate decreased to 9.19% Tuesday, down from 9.47% the day before.

Meanwhile, the number of patients hospitalized for the coronavirus increased by 20 Tuesday to 1,771, the fourth highest day since the pandemic began in March but shy of the record of 1,799 hospitalized set Dec. 15. The number of those hospitalized requiring intensive care declined by eight Tuesday to 410.

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The number of patients requiring intensive care has hovered around the current mark for about a month; hospitalizations have fluctuated more since rising from pandemic lows in September.

More than 27,000 people have been hospitalized in Maryland throughout the duration of the pandemic.

Maryland has recently come under scrutiny for a slow rollout of the recently approved vaccines. The state reported that it had administered 11,224 vaccine doses in the last 24 hours. Since it first gave a shot of the vaccine on Dec. 14, the state has inoculated 76,916 people through Tuesday.

Maryland is relying on two federally approved vaccines: one from Pfizer, another from Moderna. The state has vaccinated almost 1.3% of its population so far, starting with front-line health care workers, nursing home residents and staff, and emergency responders.

Most of the vaccinations so far, 41,138, have been administered in what the health department defines as the Baltimore Metropolitan Area: Baltimore City and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford and Howard counties. Those counties have vaccinated approximately 1.5% of their combined populations.

The National Capital Region – Charles, Frederick, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties — has inoculated 17,314 people, about 0.7% of their combined population.

Counties making up Maryland’s Eastern Shore have vaccinated the biggest portion of their population, 1.65% or 7,550 people. Southern Maryland and Western Maryland have vaccinated 2,951 people and 2,202 people, respectively. Those tallies account for about 1.4% of the population of Calvert and St. Mary’s counties and 1.3% of Allegany, Garret and Washington counties’ residents, respectively.

Since the start of the pandemic, Maryland has administered 5.9 million tests as of Monday.

Maryland’s most populous jurisdictions, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, added the most new cases Tuesday with 262 and 422, respectively. Baltimore County, which reported 175 new cases, paced the state in new deaths, with eight.

Baltimore City added 186 cases and one death Tuesday. Mayor Brandon Scott said Tuesday he would decide by Friday whether to ease restrictions that he imposed at the start of his term in office to slow the spread of the virus.

Anne Arundel County recorded 152 cases and five deaths. Carroll County reported 68 cases and three deaths; Howard County, 87 cases and one death; and Harford County, 48 cases and two deaths.

As of Monday, the latest day for which county-by-county testing positivity data is available, two Western Maryland counties recorded some of the state’s highest daily positivity rates. Health department data showed Washington County at the top of the list, with almost 17% daily positivity. Nearby Garrett County had a rate of about 14%, third highest.

Worcester County paced the Eastern Shore with almost 15% daily testing positivity. Neighboring Wicomico County checked in next at nearly 14%.

Within the Washington, D.C.-Baltimore corridor, which features roughly 65% of the state’s population, Prince George’s county had the highest rate at approximately 12%.

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