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Coronavirus positivity remains below 2%, case count below 200

For the second straight day, Maryland’s seven-day average testing positivity rate stayed below 2% and the daily coronavirus case load remained below 200.

Coronavirus data has continued improving amid Maryland’s vaccination campaign, now incentivized by a daily cash prize from the state lottery, which is in its second day.

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Here’s Wednesday’s coronavirus update:

Cases

Maryland health officials reported 198 new cases of the virus, a slight increase from Tuesday, when daily cases hit their lowest level since March 26, 2020, at 160.

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The 14-day average caseload has been sinking steadily since mid-April, when it eclipsed 1,000 cases a day. Now, it’s less than 350.

So far, 458,878 people in Maryland have tested positive for the disease.

Deaths

Health officials said that eight more people died from COVID-19 on Wednesday.

For the past week, the state’s 14-day average of deaths per day has hovered around 11, after sitting closer to 15 in much of late April and early May.

In total, 8,846 people have died in Maryland due to the coronavirus.

Hospitalizations

The number of people hospitalized with the virus decreased by 10 on Wednesday, to 432, according to the state’s dashboard.

That brings hospitalizations, which have been falling since late April, to their lowest level since Oct. 5.

Over the course of the pandemic, 43,124 people have been hospitalized with the virus.

Positivity rate

After sinking below 2% for the first time in the pandemic on Tuesday, the state’s positivity rate dropped even lower on Wednesday to 1.87%. The seven-day average rate has been setting records since last week.

It’s likely an indication that even with vaccinations expanding and the infection rate declining, the state is still casting a wide enough net with testing to catch a large number of negatives.

Wednesday, the state reported that providers conducted 18,141 new COVID-19 tests — more than Tuesday’s total, but less than this time last week, when 29,948 tests were reported.

Vaccinations

Thus far, 46.5% of all Marylanders are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and 56.1% have received at least one shot.

Wednesday, the state reported 36,251 new vaccinations, including 15,701 new first doses of the two-dose regimen required by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. Meanwhile, the state doled out 18,944 second doses of those vaccines. Earlier in the vaccination effort, first dose totals eclipsed second dose totals every day. But in May, the opposite has often been true.

Vaccinations by age

When it comes to Marylanders 18 and over, 65.8% have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine. So far, children younger than 12 are not eligible for vaccination.

Broken down even further, 84.3% of Marylanders 65 and over have received at least one dose, as have 71.9% of those 50 to 64 years old, 56.7% of those between 18 and 49 and 33.4% of those between 12 and 17 years old.

Vaccinations by race

Black Marylanders are underrepresented in vaccinations and overrepresented in coronavirus deaths. The opposite is true of white and Asian Marylanders.

So far, Black Marylanders have received 24.4% of all the shots for which race data is known, a figure that doesn’t include Maryland vaccinations at federal sites. They make up 31.1% of the state population, but 35.9% of the deaths caused by COVID-19.

Hispanic Marylanders, meanwhile, make up 7.8% of shots, but are 10.6% of the population, and 9% of the state’s COVID-19 deaths.

Vaccinations by county

Three Maryland counties have fully vaccinated more than half of their populations, but the least vaccinated county in the state hasn’t eclipsed 30% vaccination.

Howard County ranks the highest, having vaccinated 54.3% of its population. Not far behind is Talbot County, which has vaccinated 51.5% of its considerably smaller population. Montgomery County, the largest jurisdiction in the state, is in third place with 51% of its population fully vaccinated.

Somerset County, where the vaccination rate is lower than anywhere else in the state, has fully vaccinated 29.3% of residents. The county, located on the southern edge of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, is 40% Black, and more than 20% of its residents live in poverty.

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