Maryland added 2,924 new cases of the coronavirus Friday, along with 45 more fatalities, according to health department data.
The state has now recorded 320,739 cases and 6,322 deaths since health officials began to track COVID-19 in March.
Maryland residents 70 and older accounted for 35 of the 43 deaths reported over the past 24 hours for which ages were provided by the health department. That age group accounted for about 10% of the new cases.
There were no deaths reported among people between the ages of 20 and 39, though that demographic accounted for about 34% of Friday’s new cases.
The steepest municipal day-over-day increase in cases reported Friday was recorded on the Eastern Shore, with neighbors Caroline and Queen Anne’s counties. Both recorded about a 2% increase in total cases Friday than a day earlier.
Statewide, five more Marylanders were hospitalized with the virus Friday than a day earlier. Of the1,848 people under hospital care Friday, 421 required intensive care, four fewer than a day earlier.
Over the past day, Maryland completed 54,416 coronavirus tests, about 12,000 more than it administered in the last 24-hour period. The state has now completed 6,352,475 tests.
The state’s seven-day average testing positivity rate continued to decreaseThursday, checking in at 8.3%. That’s down from 8.43% a day earlier.
The highest seven-day positivity rates were reported in Western Maryland, where Washington and Garrett counties had rates of 14.68% and 14.63%, respectively. The next-highest rate was reported in Calvert County at 13.28%. A cluster of counties on the southern end of Maryland’s Eastern Shore also recorded elevated rates compared to the state average. Dorchester County topped the cluster with a 12.67% positivity rate.
With a 10.84% seven-day positivity rate, Prince George’s County had the highest rate among Maryland’s five most populous jurisdictions. Anne Arundel County was not far behind, with 9.5% testing positivity. The rates in Baltimore City and Baltimore and Montgomery counties remained below the statewide average.
Maryland’s seven-day average of infections per 100,000 residents also decreased slightly. The rate was 51.85 cases per 100,000 residents Thursday, down from 51.9 a day earlier and the recent pandemic peak of 53.39.
Nationally, there is an average of 73.8 cases per 100,000 people, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Maryland has the lowest case rate of all the states it borders, with Delaware and West Virginia reporting the highest rates among Maryland’s neighbors.
Still, a few Maryland counties continue to see rates higher than the statewide and national averages.
On the Eastern Shore, Dorchester County paced the state for the second day in a row. The county of about 32,000 residents recorded its highest-ever coronavirus case rate with an average of 91.72 infections per 100,000 people over the last week as of Thursday.
In Western Maryland, Washington County continued to register a rate among the state’s highest, despite five days on the decline. The jurisdiction of about 151,000 people had a rate of 81.43 cases per 100,00 residents over the past week as of Thursday — the state’s second-highest.
Maryland’s vaccination campaign administered 18,458 doses over the past 24 hours. Some 16,805people received their first shot, while1,653 received their second.
The number of people who received their initial shot over the past 24 hours was the most since the first doses were administered last month. It’s the second day in a row the state has set a new milestone for coronavirus vaccine doses administered.
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About 195,000 Marylanders have received their first dose of the vaccine, while 17,493 have received their second shot.
The Baltimore Metropolitan Area, which includes Baltimore City and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford and Howard counties, has administered the majority of vaccine doses, having given more than 101,000 shots.
Calvert and St. Mary’s counties administered 20% more doses over the past 24 hours than the day before. That area has given almost 7,000 shots.
The National Capital Region, which includes Charles, Frederick, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, has given vaccines to about 2% of its population, which accounts for about a third of Maryland residents.
While the vaccination effort has to date been focused on front-line health care workers, first responders and nursing home residents and staff, more people soon will be eligible to receive the vaccine.
Gov. Larry Hogan announced Thursday that the state was transitioning to the next phase of the vaccine rollout. Beginning Monday, Maryland residents 75 and older, teachers and school staff, child care providers, those who live in assisted and congregate living facilities, and high-risk inmates and detainees will be eligible to receive shots.