The number of coronavirus hospitalizations in Maryland — the main statistic Gov. Larry Hogan used to justify lifting a statewide stay-at-home order Friday — dropped by 40 patients as of Sunday and is now at its lowest level in three weeks, according to state health officials.
As people began returning to retailers, restaurants and other nonessential businesses over the weekend, the number of confirmed cases increased by 836, and 34 more people died as of Sunday, according to the Maryland Department of Health.
The total number of cases of COVID-19, the disease the virus causes, has reached 38,804, officials say. The state’s death toll was 1,876 as of Sunday, and the death rate had stabilized at about 50 deaths per day over the previous two weeks, according to state data.
The total number of people currently hospitalized is 1,460.
In addition to overall hospitalizations, the Republican governor has kept a close eye on the number of intensive care cases as an indicator of hospitals’ capacity, the severity of the virus in Maryland and the state’s readiness to resume normal activities.
The number of COVID-19 patients currently in intensive care units dropped by 36 cases from the day before to a total of 562, according to the state health department.
The number of acute-care cases dropped by four to 898 as of Sunday, officials said.
Another 10 people have been released from isolation since Saturday, and nearly 4,000 more people tested negative for the virus, bringing the total number of negative test results to 156,122.
As of 5 p.m. Friday, the governor allowed local jurisdictions to decide which “low-risk” activities will be permitted to resume, such as reopening retail stores at 50% capacity, hosting outdoor religious services and opening hair salons and barber shops to provide services by appointment only.
A protest calling the state’s restrictions “tyrannical” was held in Annapolis on Friday.
Stay-at-home orders remain in effect, however, in the state’s most heavily populated areas — Baltimore City and Baltimore, Anne Arundel, Howard, Prince George’s and Montgomery counties — which have had the most cases and deaths, according to state data.
There were more than 11,000 cases in Prince George’s County, more than 8,000 in Montgomery County, more than 4,600 in Baltimore County, nearly 3,800 in Baltimore City, more than 2,800 in Anne Arundel County and more than 1,000 in Howard County, as of Sunday.
As the governor’s stay-at-home order was lifted Friday, Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young, a Democrat, urged city residents to continue to stay home and said the city’s reopening “must and will be guided by the data and science.”
African American residents account for nearly one third of the state’s cases, and 23% of those infected are Hispanic. Those groups make up about 31% and 10% of the state population, respectively, according to Census data.
The elderly and immuno-compromised are considered to be most at-risk for severe cases of the respiratory disease. People older than 60 account for about 28% of known coronavirus cases in Maryland, but they represent 85% of the deaths.