The Maryland health department reported 1,547 new cases of the coronavirus statewide Friday, along with 35 fatalities.
It was the second day in a row with more than 1,500 new cases after new case counts dropped below 1,000 Tuesday and Wednesday after testing was suppressed due to the wintry weather. But Thursday’s and Friday’s case counts are lower than all but one day in January, reflecting an easing of the post-holiday surge in COVID-19.
That easing is evident in the downward trend in the state’s seven-day average of new cases reported daily. As of Thursday, the state averaged 23.52 cases per 100,000 people, down from 24.31 Wednesday and less than half the rate of its pandemic peak of 53.39 a little over three weeks ago on Jan. 12. The latest rate was the lowest since Nov. 12.
Nationwide, the average rate of daily infections per 100,000 people was 40.5 Thursday, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Only one Maryland county, Dorchester County on the Eastern Shore, had a rate higher than the national average: an average of 42 cases per 100,000 people over the last day, nearly twice the state average.
Friday’s latest numbers bring the state’s count for cases to 360,584 and casualties to 7,109.
The health department reported 1,444 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, 18 more than Thursday. Of those, 341 required intensive care, one more than the day before.
Maryland also reported completing 42,261 coronavirus tests, accompanied by a small increase in the state’s week-long average testing positivity rate. That figure rose to 5.94% Thursday, up from 5.89% a day earlier.
Washington County in Western Maryland has the state’s highest positivity rate, with an average of 10.3% over the last week. Its rate had dropped considerably after peaking at 18.46% Dec. 31, but began climbing again toward the end of January.
Meanwhile on the Eastern Shore, the rates in Dorchester, Somerset and Wicomico counties have been increasing for a couple of days, although all three’s rates remain well below their highest marks during the pandemic. Somerset’s 9.28% positivity rate was the second highest in Maryland, while Wicomico’s rate of 8.97% was third and Dorchester’s 8.79% was fourth.
Of Maryland’s five most populous jurisdictions, Prince George’s County reported the highest average testing positivity rate at 7.65%.
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While Maryland health officials continued to track the virus’ spread, they also reported 32,141 doses of the vaccine made their way into people’s arms over the last 24 hours. Some 17,759 people received their first dose, while 14,382 received their second shot. Both available vaccines require two doses to protect against severe illness.
Some 503,865 people have now received their first immunization in Maryland, while 130,190 have been fully vaccinated, health department data shows. About 8.3% if Maryland’s population have gotten their first shots, while 2.15% have received their second.
Coronavirus immunizations remain in short supply and Maryland’s average rate of daily doses administered declined for the fifth day in a row, to 21,558, after topping out at a week-long average of 25,339 shots given daily on Jan. 30.
Following a trend that has concerned public health officials and experts, some minorities hardest hit by the virus continue to be vaccinated at a rate slower than white people.
White residents make up about 58.5% of the state’s population and account for approximately 40% of coronavirus cases and 51% of deaths. But white people have gotten about 68% of coronavirus vaccine shots so far.
Meanwhile, Black residents, who account for roughly 31% of the population, 33% of cases and 35% of deaths, have gotten only 16% of shots.
Hispanic Marylanders account for 11% of the population, about 19% of COVID-19 cases and 9% of deaths. They’ve gotten about 5% of the doses.