Maryland reported 624 new coronavirus cases Saturday, as well as 10 more deaths caused by COVID-19, while the total number of patients being treated for the virus in intensive care units fell to its lowest point since the early days of the pandemic.
The Maryland Department of Health said the state now has confirmed 103,523 cases since the virus began spreading in the state in March. Deaths from the virus in Maryland now number 3,546.
A total of 1,751,515 tests for the virus have been conducted so far, more than 28,000 of them in the 24 hours previous to the state’s Saturday morning report.
Since June 25, the state’s seven-day average positivity rate for COVID-19 testing has been below 5%, a key benchmark as defined by the World Health Organization for reopening steps amid the pandemic. On Saturday, the rate was 3.09%, a slight increase from Friday’s record low of 3.08%. Maryland’s rate has been below 4% for 14 consecutive days.
Hospitalizations for the disease caused by the coronavirus declined slightly again. Maryland reported 441 people in the hospital Saturday due to COVID-19, 14 fewer than on Friday. Of those 441, 98 were in intensive care units, four fewer than were reported Friday.
That marks the first time the ICU count fell below 100 since March 29, when there were 94 COVID-19 patients receiving intensive care across Maryland. That was a day before Hogan announced his stay-at-home order to fight community spread of the disease.
Gov. Larry Hogan said several times that steady reductions in the number of hospitalizations for the coronavirus were key to lifting the pandemic-related restrictions he imposed in spring. Hospitalizations reached their highest levels in late April and early May, peaking on April 30, when 1,711 people required either acute or ICU-level care. Demand for ICU beds reached a peak of 611 on May 10.
From there, Maryland officials reported steady declines in patients requiring hospitalization, reaching a record low on July 10 with 385 beds needed, about a third of them in ICUs. Within a few days, however, bed use started ticking up again, sparking concerns about a new wave of infections.
But after hospitalizations reached 592 on Aug. 1, the number of people requiring hospital treatment, particularly in ICUs, has mostly declined. Overall, ICU levels are down by about 38% since July 25, according to state data.