Maryland health officials on Tuesday reported the smallest number of new coronavirus cases since Nov. 12 — 1,482. But even as some coronavirus metrics show signs of starting to decline, the state continues to feel the effects of a powerful winter surge.
Maryland reported 62 deaths from the coronavirus Tuesday, the most of any day in the last two weeks.
As of Tuesday, 1,642 people are hospitalized from the virus, 27 fewer than Monday.
Since March, the state has reported 344,620 cases and 6,788 deaths from the virus.
Maryland also reported Tuesday administering 23,724 more doses of the coronavirus vaccines as a troubled rollout effort continues, including 17,317 first doses and 6,407 second doses.
The state opened vaccination eligibility up to all residents over age 65 Monday, but many Marylanders have struggled to find available appointments as demand continues to outpace the supply of vaccines.
So far, 348,026 people in Maryland have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 48,635 people have received both doses, amounting to 5.76% and 0.8% of the state population, respectively.
Maryland has administered about 47% of the doses it has received from the federal government. It ranks worse than all but three states, according to The New York Times.
The state health department reported a different metric Tuesday, saying that about 60% of the 667,275 doses distributed had been administered — or 396,661.
Most of Maryland’s doses have been distributed to health providers in the counties, but the state’s decentralized approach — letting counties create their own priority lists and administration plans — has plagued the effort to get shots in arms, according to a report released Monday by the Brookings Institution, a nonprofit public policy organization based in Washington, DC.
“Maryland’s system of strong county governance works well in normal times but is impeding vaccine delivery during this pandemic,” the report reads. “As Maryland residents know, this diversity has created confusion and has given residents with access to multiple information sources advantages over those with weaker networks and less Internet access. A bewildering maze of online sites — some from counties, others from hospitals — has sprung up.”
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So far, the state’s more rural counties have vaccinated the greatest shares of their populations. Talbot County on the Eastern Shore has given first doses to 10% of the population. Wicomico County, als on the Shore, Wicomico, has the greatest percentage of the population fully vaccinated, 1.38%, although it’s followed closely by its neighbor Worcester (1.266%) and then health care hub Baltimore City (1.139%).
Officials also are examining an emerging racial disparity in the vaccine rollout. Black Marylanders have received 14.8% of first doses administered so far, despite making up 31% of the population, and 35% of the state’s coronavirus deaths. Hispanic Marylanders have received 3.9% of the first shots, despite making up 11% of the state population and 9% of coronavirus deaths.
It comes as the state sees a slight calming of its coronavirus metrics. The seven-day average testing positivity rate, for instance, decreased again Tuesday, dropping from 6.84% to 6.64%. The state reported 25,926 administered coronavirus tests Tuesday, the lowest daily total over the past week.
The state’s seven-day average of new daily reported cases inched down again Tuesday — from 35.26 cases per 100,000 people to 34.11.
That data continues to paint a worrisome picture for the Eastern Shore. About two-thirds of the counties there have an infection rate above the state average, led by Dorchester — where the rate is close to double the state average, at 64.88.
In Western Maryland, the epicenter of a November/December spike in coronavirus cases, Garrett County now has the lowest average rate of any jurisdiction in the state, with 17.73. Allegany, which saw the highest infection rates of any jurisdiction back in December, is below the state average, at 30.43.
Much of the Baltimore area is under the state average, too, with the exception of Anne Arundel County, which was 38.33 per 100,000 as of Tuesday.