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Maryland’s COVID-19 positivity rate is the lowest since late September

The state’s COVID testing positivity rate dropped to its lowest level since last fall as other key metrics Maryland is using to track the pandemic continue a downward trend.

Wednesday, Maryland health officials reported 471 new cases of the coronavirus.

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Here’s where things stand with COVID-19:

Cases

Earlier this week, the state reported the lowest daily total since summer 2020, 276.

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Wednesday’s case total was higher, but still a far cry from the daily case counts in April, which soared as high as 1,840.

In total, Maryland health officials have reported 454,271 cases of COVID-19 in the state since the pandemic started.

Deaths

Wednesday, state health officials reported nine more people dead as a result of the virus.

It’s the ninth straight day that officials have reported fewer than 15 deaths from COVID-19.

In the winter, when the pandemic was at its worst, Maryland was averaging as many as 44 deaths per day.

In total, 8,678 Marylanders have died from the virus.

Hospitalizations

On the whole, the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Maryland has been declining since April 21, when it was above 1,200.

Wednesday, it declined from 799 people to 770.

About 29% of those people required intensive care.

In sum, more than 42,000 Marylanders have received care in hospitals for COVID-19 complications.

Positivity Rate

Tuesday, the state reported the seven-day average testing positivity rate fell below 3% for the first time since October. And Wednesday, it fell to 2.74% from 2.88%. That’s the lowest it has been since Sept. 29.

The state reported 25,364 completed tests in the last 24 hours, which was more than Monday and Tuesday’s reported totals combined: 23,575.

Vaccinations

State officials said Wednesday that providers have administered 50,901new doses of the coronavirus vaccines.

That includes 13,768 first doses in the two-shot regimen required by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna and 35,883 second doses. It also includes 1,250 doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

In sum, 48.3% of Marylanders have received at least one dose of a vaccine, and 40.2% are fully vaccinated against the virus.

Vaccinations by Age

About 82.6% of Marylanders 65 and over have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, state data shows. Older people, who are more vulnerable to severe complications from the virus, were prioritized in vaccine administration, alongside health care workers.

In addition, 68.4% of Marylanders between 50 and 64 have received at least one shot, plus 52.3% of those 18-49. About 40% of 16 and 17-year-olds, once the youngest age group eligible for vaccination, have received one dose or two. Federal health officials recently approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children ages 12 to 15.

Vaccinations by Race

Among the roughly 5 million Maryland vaccinations with race data attached, Black Marylanders still appear underrepresented. About 23.1% of shots have gone to Black individuals, who make up 31.1% of the state population, according to U.S. Census data. By comparison, white Marylanders have received 58.1% of shots, and make up 58.5% of the population and Asian Marylanders have received 7.6% of shots and make up 6.7% of the population. Meanwhile, 6.5% of shots have gone to people who marked their race as “Other.” In census data, 2.9% of people were considered “Two or more races.”

Among the roughly 5 million shots with ethnicity data attached, Hispanic and Latino Marylanders appear underrepresented. They have received 6.85% of shots, but make up 10.6% of the population, according to the Census Bureau.

The gaps have improved slightly over time, as vaccines have become more widely available. Experts say hesitancy among minority groups to get the vaccine could be contributing, but that inequities in access, plus lacking health care or transportation infrastructure in some communities of color, likely contributes as well.

Vaccinations by County

Consistently, the small Eastern Shore county of Talbot has led the vaccination tally. As of Wednesday, 47% of its residents have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Previously, other small counties were close behind, but now, some of the state’s largest and most affluent counties are next in the standings. Howard and Montgomery counties have vaccinated 46.6 and 44.01% of their populations.

The county with the lowest vaccination rate is Somerset, a small county on the southern tip of the Eastern Shore where 23.6% of the population lives in poverty, according to U.S. Census data.

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