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Maryland on Sunday reports lowest coronavirus positivity rate and number of hospitalizations since March

Another 412 new coronavirus cases and three new deaths were confirmed in Maryland on Sunday, as the state touted its lowest positivity rate and number of hospitalizations since March.

The three latest victims were women in their 60s, 70s and 80s, according to state data. Their identities have not been released.

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A total of 3,735 people have now died from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, and 120,156 people have been infected in Maryland since the state began tracking the pandemic in March.

For the first time since March fewer than 300 patients are currently hospitalized with the coronavirus in Maryland, according to state data. The number of hospitalizations, which peaked at 1,711 in April, dropped for a third straight day to 281 as of Sunday.

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Of the patients hospitalized Sunday, 213 are in acute care, down 36 from Saturday, and 68 are in intensive care, the fewest since March and seven fewer than the day before.

Maryland’s seven-day average rate of positive cases dropped below 3% for the first time Sunday, to 2.85%, according to state officials.

Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus resource center calculates that rate differently: Maryland’s seven-day, rolling rate is 5.66%, the university reported.

The positivity-rate figure Hopkins includes in its daily reports is consistently higher than the state’s. Maryland officials calculate the positivity rate as the number of positive tests divided by total testing volume over a seven-day period. Rather than the total testing volume, Hopkins uses the number of people tested, or the combination of new cases and people who tested negative.

The World Health Organization recommends 14 straight days with the rolling average positivity rate under 5% before governments begin easing virus-related restrictions.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan issued an order Friday allowing restaurants to offer expanded indoor dining starting this week, although local officials are able to impose stricter restrictions.

Cecil County, where the positivity rate was 5.19% as of Sunday, is the only jurisdiction in Maryland with a positivity rate above the 5% benchmark, according to state officials.

But the county’s 997 cases and 32 deaths are exponentially fewer than in more populous counties. Prince George’s County has the highest number of total cases, with 28,555 as of Sunday, and Montgomery County has had the most deaths, with 798, according to state officials.

COVID-19 has killed 596 people and infected 17,423 in Baltimore County and has killed 464 people and infected 15,226 in Baltimore City, according to state data.

The disease is deadliest to people older than 65 and those with preexisting conditions and compromised immune systems. But people in their 20s, 30s and 40s made up nearly 53% of the total cases, as of Sunday, according to the state.

Black and Latino people have continued to be disproportionately represented in Maryland’s coronavirus cases and deaths, compared with their share of the state’s population.

While Black people account for only 30% of Marylanders, they represent 38% of the state’s confirmed cases and 41% of the deaths for which the patient’s race was known.

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Latinos, who make up about 10% of Maryland’s population, accounted for about 26% of the state’s confirmed cases and nearly 12% of the deaths for which the patient’s race was known.

White people, who are the majority in Maryland with 60% of the population, made up only 29% of the cases and 42% of the deaths for which the patient’s race was known.

The patient’s race was not known in 18,164 of Maryland’s confirmed coronavirus cases — 15% of all cases — and nine of the deaths, according to state health officials.

The state’s coronavirus death toll also does not include an additional 144 victims whose infections weren’t confirmed by a laboratory test.

A total of 2.39 million COVID-19 tests have been conducted in Maryland since March, according to state officials.

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