The coronavirus pandemic continued to swell in Maryland in the weeks after the holidays as evidenced by the state’s seven-day average of cases per 100,000 residents, which reached 53.39 Tuesday, continuing a streak of record highs during the pandemic, according to state health department data released Wednesday.
Maryland, however, remains well below the national average of 75.2 cases per 100,000 residents, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Overall, Maryland reported 2,516 new cases of the coronavirus Wednesday, along with 37 more deaths. The latest additions bring the state’s case count to 314,867, and total fatalities to 6,233, according to health department data.
The state’s elevated case rate appears to be buoyed by two rural counties, one each in Western Maryland and the Eastern Shore, which continue to check in far above the statewide — and national — averages, and a pair of populous counties within the Washington-Baltimore corridor.
Washington County again topped the state with its seven-day average of cases per 100,000 residents, at 92.02, which was down from a few days earlier and its peak of 103.09. A jurisdiction of about 151,000 residents, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates, the county has had the state’s highest rate since Dec. 23.
The case rate in Dorchester County, which has about 32,000 residents, spiked to 90.38 cases per 100,000 residents, the highest it’s been since officials began tracking the data.
Washington County’s neighbor to the east, Frederick County, also recorded its highest ever case rate per 100,000 residents: 72.16. The county of about 260,000 residents also had among the steepest day-over-day hikes in cases in Maryland. With 175 more cases Wednesday, Frederick now has 13,676.
The more populous and centrally located Prince George’s and Anne Arundel counties, which have about 909,000 and 579,000 residents, respectively, also marked their highest case rates ever per 100,000 residents. Prince George’s rate checked in at about 58 and Anne Arundel at 64.99.
Baltimore City and Baltimore County remained below the statewide average.
Following a trend that has held true throughout the pandemic, health department data show 30 of the 37 of the people who died in the past 24 hours were 70 or older. Meanwhile, people in that age bracket accounted for fewer than 10% of the new cases. The most new cases were reported among those 20 to 29 years old.
Hospitalizations continued to fluctuate day over day.
A total of 1,929 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized Wednesday, 23 fewer than Tuesday. Of those 454 required intensive care, down two.
The state reported completing 34,334 COVID-19 tests over the last 24 hours, up from a day earlier. Maryland has completed 6,254,353 tests since March.
Reports of a slight acceleration in the state’s testing volume comes about 24 hours after Maryland detected for the first time two cases of a more contagious variant of the virus first discovered in the United Kingdom. The revelation forced an Anne Arundel County couple into quarantine while health officials conducted contact tracing.
Meanwhile, the state’s testing positivity rate decreased Wednesday, checking in at 8.53%, down from 8.77% Tuesday.
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The state reported administering 15,827 more doses of the two coronavirus vaccines — 12,778 more people received their first shot, while 3,049 received their second in the last 24 hours.
Some 164,907 people — about 2.7% of Maryland’s population — have received their first shot of the vaccine, while 12,704 — about 0.2% of residents — also have received their second dose.
The less populous areas in Maryland continue to lead the vaccination campaign in terms of the percentage of their residents who’ve received shots. The Baltimore Metropolitan Area has administered the majority of shots.
CDC data shows Maryland still has administered relatively few doses of the vaccine when controlling for population. It has given approximately 2,400 shots per 100,000 residents, which ranks near the bottom of the list of states.
Still, Gov. Larry Hogan raised concerns Tuesday about expanding the vaccination to more of the population. The Republican governor said that the state was administering more doses of the vaccine daily than it was receiving from the federal government.
“I don’t want to have vaccines laying around. I also don’t want to run out and not get to second doses,” Hogan said.
Baltimore Sun reporters Bryn Stole and Pamela Wood contributed to this article.