Days after Maryland marked a grim milestone in the coronavirus pandemic, eclipsing 6,000 deaths due to COVID-19, it surpassed another Saturday. More than 300,000 people have contracted the virus.
The state recorded 3,758 new cases of the coronavirus over the past 24 hours, the second-most new cases reported in a 24-hour window since the virus landed in Maryland. Twenty-eight more people died from the disease, according to data from the Maryland Department of Health.
The new figures bring the state’s case count to 303,364 and death toll to 6,075.
While new cases and deaths mounted, hospitalizations for the virus continued to fluctuate.
One day after the state recorded the most ever hospitalizations from the virus, the health department reported Saturday a slight decrease in hospitalizations paired with an uptick in those patients who required intensive care: 1,877 people remained hospitalized with the disease, while 449 were under intensive care — an increase of two over the day before.
On Wednesday the state for the first time this week set a hospitalization record, but officials attributed the bump in part to a change in the way hospitals report their number of COVID patients. Whereas hospitals excluded patients diagnosed with the disease but who were no longer considered infectious, federal guidance has shifted toward hospitals reporting all coronavirus patients under their care.
Health and hospital officials assured earlier this week that the hospitals had room to treat patients with or without the virus.
Still, 28,296 people have been hospitalized with the disease in Maryland from the time officials began tracking coronavirus data in March.
Meanwhile, after two days on the decline, the state’s testing positivity rate held firm at 9.16%.
Maryland’s average positive case rate per 100,000 residents, 45.81, remains well below the national average. But a number of Maryland jurisdictions continue to check in above both the state and nationwide average, which is 68.7, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In Western Maryland, Washington County, which has about 151,000 residents, has remained above the state and national averages for at least a week. It still tops the state in its case rate per 100,000 residents, at 90.89. But that’s a drop from where the rate stood a day earlier, almost 100 cases per 100,000 residents.
Washington County added 187 cases in the last 24 hours, an increase of almost 2%. It has now recorded 9,580 cases since officials began tracking the data.
The sharpest day-over-day increase in cases was recorded in Dorchester County. It added 59 cases, an almost 4% bump over the day before. Dorchester’s case count stands at 1,597.
The Eastern Shore county of about 32,000 residents, according to 2019 U.S. Census Bureau estimates, had Maryland’s second-highest case rate per 100,000 residents. That figure stood at almost 70, where it has hovered for about the last week.
Baltimore added 373 cases over the past 24 hours, along with one casualty. The most populous of its neighbors, Baltimore County, added 373 cases and eight deaths. Anne Arundel County tacked on 429 cases and five deaths; Howard County had 210 new cases and zero deaths. Harford and Carroll counties had 95 and 101 new cases, respectively, and two and zero new deaths.
As more Marylanders tested positive for the virus, the campaign to vaccinate front-line health care workers and emergency responders inched forward.
More than 2% of Maryland’s population has received a dose of the vaccine. The state has administered about 1,898 doses of the vaccine per 100,000 residents, which ranks Maryland in the bottom half of states, according to the CDC.
Over the past 24 hours, 12,211 people received their first dose of the vaccine while 1,902 Marylanders received their second shot.
Almost 124,000 people have received their first shot of the vaccine, while the state has administered the second dose to 4,826.
Maryland hospitals and systems have administered the majority of vaccine doses to date, with local health departments having administered fewer, Gov. Larry Hogan said in a Tweet Saturday morning.
Hogan’s comments indicated that both hospitals and health departments have a long way to go before they’ve administered all the doses they received through Operation Warp Speed, the federal program for developing and delivering the vaccine.
The Republican governor, who has been scrutinized for the state’s slow vaccine rollout, said 99.8% of the doses allotted to Maryland are in the custody of providers.
Hospitals and health systems have given 83,594 doses of the vaccines, about 41.5% of their doses, Hogan said. Local health departments, meanwhile, have administered 27,348 doses, approximately 32.7% of their allotment.
Data from the state health department show that the most vaccines have been administered in the region it defines as the Baltimore Metropolitan Area: Baltimore City and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford and Howard counties. More than 64,000 shots have been given in that area, accounting for approximately 2.3% of its sizable population.
About 29,500 doses have been administered in the National Capital Region, which the health department defines as Charles, Frederick, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. That’s good for approximately 1.24% of the population of the counties that surround Washington, D.C.
Having given 12,542 doses, the less populated Eastern Shore has given at least one shot of the vaccine to about 2.74% of its population, the biggest proportion of the regions outlined by the health department.
Southern Maryland (Calvert and St. Mary’s counties) and Western Maryland (Allegany, Garrett and Washington counties) have administered 3,986 and 6,075 doses of the vaccine, approximately 1.9% and 2.4% of the areas’ populations.