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Maryland reports lowest positivity rate for third day in a row

For the third consecutive day, Maryland’s seven-day average COVID-19 testing positivity rate reached an all-time low.

The rate declined to 2.06% Thursday from 2.19% the day before, an indication that infections are slowing amid the statewide vaccination effort and Maryland’s testing regimen is keeping pace.

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Here’s the latest from the Maryland Department of Health on where the state stands with COVID-19:

Cases

The state reported 319 cases Thursday, down from 337 the day before.

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Earlier in the week, the state reported just 212 cases a day, the lowest totals since March 30, 2020.

The state’s 14-day average of new daily cases is fewer than 450 cases a day. At the start of May, it was close to 1,000.

In total, though, Maryland has reported 457,084 cases of COVID-19.

Deaths

Two more people reportedly died from the virus, bringing to 8,768 the number of such fatalities.

The state’s 14-day average is about 10 deaths daily, a figure that climbed to 16 earlier this month, and was once as high as 44.

Hospitalizations

As of Thursday, 555 people were hospitalized for COVID-19 in Maryland, 30 fewer than Wednesday.

That figure has fallen by nearly half during May. On May 1, 1,009 people were in hospitals statewide receiving treatment for COVID-19.

Positivity Rate

After rising over 5% in April, the state’s seven-day positivity rate has dropped off significantly.

The state’s positivity rate has been below 5%, the World Health Organization-recommended two-week benchmark for reopening, since April 23.

Now, the rate is approaching 2%.

Thursday, state health officials said they’d conducted 29,948 new COVID-19 tests, on par with daily totals from the past few weeks.

Vaccinations

So far, 44.2% of all Marylanders are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and 54.4% are either fully or partially vaccinated.

Thursday, officials reported administering 58,898 new shots. That includes 24,060 new first doses in the two-dose regimen required for the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, 33,035 second shots and 1,803 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, for which only one shot is required.

Vaccinations by age

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 67.3% of Marylanders 18 and over have received at least one shot of the vaccine. That includes 83.6% of those 65 and older, the age group most vulnerable to severe impacts from the virus, and 70.6% of those between 50 and 64, according to the state’s dashboard.

About 55% of Marylanders between 18 and 49 have received at least one dose, the dashboard said, and 26.2% of 12 to 17 year-olds, the youngest cohort that is approved to receive a vaccine.

Vaccinations by race

So far, 23.3% of all shots with accompanying race data have gone to Black Marylanders, who make up 31.1% of Marylanders. By comparison, 57.6% of all shots have gone to white Marylanders, who are 58.5% of the population, and 7.7% to Asian Marylanders, who are 6.7% of the population.

The disparity has drawn concern, although there has been slow improvement.

About 7% of all shots have gone to those who identified themselves as belonging to another race. In census data, 2.9% of people identified themselves as “two or more races.”

Ethnicity data tells a similar story. About 7.3% of shots with accompanying data went to Hispanic and Latino Marylanders, a group that makes up 10.6% of the state’s population, according to the Census Bureau.

Experts have turned to several different possible explanations for the disparity. Some minority communities might be hesitant about the shots, due to past mistreatment in medicine. But others may have difficulty accessing the shot or information about it. Lacking transportation and health infrastructure could be playing a role, as could inflexible vaccination schedules for working people.

Vaccinations by County

Similar disparities play out at the county level.

On top of the vaccination effort is Howard County, which had the second-highest per capita income as of 2010, according to a state site. More than half of its residents are fully vaccinated. Montgomery County, which had the highest per capita income from that time frame, ranked third in the share of its population fully vaccinated.

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