Maryland officials on Wednesday confirmed 492 new coronavirus cases and eight more deaths caused by COVID-19 as the two-week averages of newly-reported cases and intensive care hospitalizations trend upward.
Thirty-six of 50 states are seeing a surge in confirmed cases in the past week as of Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus resource center. Maryland is considered by Hopkins to be among 10 states that are level in terms of new cases in the past week, while just four states and Washington, D.C. are seeing decreasing caseloads.
But caseloads in Maryland have steadily increased this month, prompting New York state on Tuesday to again add Maryland to its travel advisory list. The advisory requires visitors from listed states and territories, which are considered to have “significant community spread,” to quarantine for 14 days after traveling to New York.
Maryland has seen the 15th-most deaths per capita and the 28th-most cases per capita among states during the pandemic, according to Hopkins' data. Research has suggested that cooler winter and fall weather could bring more virus cases.
Current hospitalizations dropped to 463 from 464 Tuesday. The state has seen significant growth in hospitalizations since Sept. 20, when it had 281 people hospitalized, but is still well below a late April peak of more than 1,700 hospitalized, according to The Baltimore Sun’s coronavirus data.
Among those hospitalized, 131 needed intensive care Wednesday, up from 123 Tuesday. After going most of September and the beginning of October in double-digit ICU numbers, with newly-reported case averages rising this month, Maryland has now reported triple-digit ICU hospitalizations for nine consecutive days.
ICU and overall hospital bed usage dropped precipitously from peaks around early May until July, going from 611 ICU beds used May 10 to just 108 July 13.
From mid-July to August, hospital bed usage and ICU hospitalizations spiked before decreasing again, down to 281 active hospitalizations and 68 ICU beds used Sept. 20. Since then, both active hospitalization and ICU hospitalization numbers have grown, as well as acute bed hospitalizations.
Maryland has only reported double-digit daily death tolls twice since Sept. 16, according to the Sun’s data. Death counts are an indicator that may lag behind cases and hospitalizations, as deaths may occur weeks after patients first show symptoms.
Maryland’s two-week average of new daily reported cases has grown steadily since Sept. 30, growing from 488 to 612 as of Wednesday, per the Sun’s data.
The new bundle of data moves the state to a total of 137,236 confirmed coronavirus cases and 3,912 deaths since March, when the state reported its first confirmed cases.
Among the eight deaths reported Wednesday, all were 60 or older, four of which being 80 or older. Marylanders 60 or older have accounted for 86% of statewide deaths, according to the Sun’s data.
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Notably, nearly 18% of the new cases reported Wednesday were found in people in their 50s, an age group that accounted for more than 8% of the state’s deaths thus far, a significant amount. Marylanders 60 or older were about 16% of newly-reported cases, while those in their 20s and 30s represented about 36% of new cases.
The state reported 73 cases among those between the ages of zero and 19, or about 15% of new cases, as some schools have re-opened for in-person classes while Baltimore City plans to bring some students back for in-person classes this fall.
Maryland’s seven-day positivity rate, which measures the percentage of positive tests over a weeklong period, was 3.11%, down from 3.2% Tuesday. The state’s rolling positivity rate has generally trended upward since being at 2.51% as of Sept. 24.
Hopkins, which calculates its positivity rate differently than Maryland, reported Maryland’s positivity rate to be 2.36% as of Tuesday, up from 2.29% as of Monday. Hopkins' data provider changed its formula Friday, moving from the number of people tested to use all viral tests performed, which has lowered its positivity rate. The state uses the number of tests in its formula.
Black and Latino Marylanders continued to be disproportionately hit by the virus in Wednesday’s numbers, which is inline with national averages.
Despite representing less than half the state’s population, the two groups made up more than 54% of new cases reported Wednesday in which race was known. White Marylanders represented 39% of new cases in which race was known despite representing more than 58% of the state’s population.
The new numbers came a day after Maryland detailed its two-phase vaccine distribution plan, which would give the vaccine first to more at-risk populations before moving to vaccinate the general population when vaccine supplies increase.