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Maryland reports 2,190 new coronavirus cases, 40 deaths Thursday

Maryland health officials on Thursday reported 2,190 newly confirmed coronavirus cases and 40 more deaths linked to COVID-19.

The daily number of new cases has risen since Tuesday, and the number of reported deaths increased from the 33 reported Wednesday. Maryland’s daily case totals are still down from a mid-January high that saw more than 3,700 cases reported for two days in a row.

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Hospitalizations fell to a total of 1,636 on Thursday, 11 fewer than Wednesday, according to the state.Hospitalizations, too, have fallen off from a peak of 1,952 in mid-January.

An additional 20,018 people received the first dose of a vaccine — the third-highest daily total so far. An additional 10,319 received their second dose in the past 24 hours, state officials said.

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So far, 6.34% of Maryland’s population has gotten at least one dose of a vaccine, and 1.102% of Marylanders are fully vaccinated, according to state health department data.

The 449,916 total doses administered in Maryland represent just over half of the 852,625 total doses the state has distributed to local health providers.

Studies show Maryland is lagging behind other states in this category. A Brookings Institution study that compared Maryland with its neighbor West Virginia, which has administered a greater proportion of its shots, faulted Maryland officials for choosing a decentralized approach, resulting in different systems for each county.

Maryland ranks 39th among states when data from the state health department is used, but the CDC, which has different data — potentially due to reporting delays — places Maryland 46th.

So far, the highest percentage of Marylanders to have received at least one dose of the vaccine are in the state’s less populous rural counties. Two counties have reached double digits, according to state data — Talbot and Worcester, both on the Eastern Shore. Close behind is Garrett County in rural Western Maryland, with 9.199% of the population having received their first doses.

The highest percentage of people have been fully vaccinated in Wicomico County, also on the Shore — 2.081%.

In Baltimore City, 5.985% of the population have gotten their first doses. By far, Baltimore County has given at least one shot to the most people — more than 60,000 — despite not being the largest county by population. Those shots cover 7.604% of the county’s population.

This stands in stark contrast with the figures in populous Prince George’s County, which has administered first doses to only 2.519% of its residents, and second doses to 0.381%. Neighboring Montgomery County, meanwhile, also one of the most populous counties in the state, has given first doses to 5.176% of its population thus far, and second doses to 0.743%.

The early disparity is drawing concern, particularly given that Prince George’s is a majority Black county, and the counties leading the way in vaccinations are majority white. So far, 14.64% of first doses for which race data is available have been given to Black Marylanders, despite the fact that this group is about 31% of the state population, and 34.94% of the state’s coronavirus deaths. Latinos have also received disproportionately fewer vaccinations — 3.82% — given that they make up about 11% of Maryland’s population and 9.35% of its coronavirus deaths.

Experts say it could be because people of color are underrepresented among health care workers, the initial targets for vaccinations. But it could also be because of hesitancy in communities of color to trust the vaccines, due to a history of wrongs done to those communities in medical spheres.

The total number of coronavirus cases since Maryland began tracking the coronavirus in March has reached 348,749, and the state’s overall death toll from COVID-19 was 6,861, as of Thursday.

The state’s seven-day average infection rate inched up a bit Thursday, from 33.57 to 33.62 per 100,000 people. The areas with the worst rates are largely on the Eastern Shore, after areas in Western Maryland led for a while. At the pandemic’s beginning, it was more urban areas like Prince George’s that had the worst rates.

The highest rate belongs to Caroline County, with 59.87 per 100,000. It’s followed by Dorchester County with 59.06.

In Baltimore City and Baltimore County, the rate is about 28 per 100,000.

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