Maryland reported 2,378 new coronavirus cases Friday, the fourth-highest daily total since officials started tracking the pandemic in March.
The state also reported that 22 more people have died from the virus. State health officials have reported more than 20 deaths for four days straight, and six of the past 11. Before this stretch, the state hadn’t reported more than 20 deaths in a day since June.
Maryland has set a record for daily coronavirus cases three times in November. Before this month, the largest number of cases reported in one day was 1,784. As of Friday, the record is 2,910.
Experts have long warned of a fall and winter surge of COVID-19, which has killed 4,414 Marylanders to date. Many worry that the numbers will continue their dramatic rise after Thanksgiving gatherings across the country, although some said there’s likely to be a lull in cases reported the days after Thanksgiving due to reduced testing capacity.
“We don’t expect that most US jurisdictions will fully staff public health departments from Thursday through Sunday,” wrote Erin Kissane, co-founder of The Atlantic’s COVID Tracking Project, in a blog post. “We anticipate that reporting of tests and cases will be delayed through at least Monday, November 30 — and perhaps several days longer, considering the depth of the likely backlogs produced by a four-day slowdown during a major case surge.”
Still, Maryland reported Friday conducting 47,320 tests, the most so far this week. The state’s positivity rate, down slightly from Thursday, is 6.3%.
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Maryland reported that 1,435 people are hospitalized due to the virus Friday, 18 fewer than on Thursday. Of those, 343 required intensive care, up from 339 Thursday.
Experts warn that a rise in deaths and hospitalizations will likely lag behind the burgeoning case count, since it may take weeks for some patients’ symptoms to worsen. Already, hospitalizations have nearly tripled since the beginning of November.
State police COVID-19 compliance units patrolled more than 700 bars and restaurants Wednesday to ensure establishments were following social distancing and mask wearing rules. They issued fewer than 10 warnings, officials said.
The increased enforcement efforts were announced by Gov. Larry Hogan earlier this week. Last week, the Republican established a 10 p.m. mandatory closing time for bars and restaurants and limited capacity to 50%.
Rural counties in Western Maryland continue to see the greatest surges of COVID-19 cases during the state’s second wave, as opposed to earlier in the pandemic when more populous, urban counties bore the brunt of infections. Allegany County reported 132 new cases Friday, and its seven-day average case rate per 100,000 people is at 170.42 — the highest in the state. Neighboring Garrett and Washington counties also reported average case rates far above the state average of 37.21, at 122.6 and 64.97, respectively.
Somerset County on the Eastern Shore has the third highest seven-day average case rate per 100,000 people in the state, at 112.1.
The majority of COVID-19 deaths reported Friday — 14 — were among those 80 years and older. But people in their 20s accounted for the most new cases, with 475.
A previous version of this article included the incorrect total of Marylanders who have died due to COVID-19. The pandemic has killed 4,414 residents to date. The Sun regrets the error.