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Maryland reports 682 new coronavirus cases, 8 deaths Saturday

Maryland reported 682 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, along with eight more deaths tied to the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

The figures put the state at a total of 119,744 confirmed infections and 3,732 deaths since the start of the pandemic in March. The state has reported single-digit death counts in 14 of the past 15 days.

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State officials put the seven-day positivity rate, calculated as the percentage of positive tests over a weeklong time frame, at 3.07%. That’s the lowest figure the state has reported yet, dipping barely below the previous low of 3.08% on Aug. 20.

However, Johns Hopkins University continues to report a positivity rate at 6%. The university records testing positivity differently than Maryland, using the number of people tested as opposed to the total number of tests.

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The World Health Organization recommends governments see 14 consecutive days with positivity rates below 5% before beginning reopening measures. Maryland’s reported rate has been below that figure for close to three months, but began its reopening before getting under the 5% mark.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan issued an order Friday allowing restaurants to offer expanded indoor dining starting next week, although local governments have the authority to decide whether to go along with the relaxed restrictions.

Hogan spokesman Mike Ricci on Twitter touted Saturday’s count of intensive care unit beds in use as one of several “encouraging trends.” The state reported 75 people were in intensive care — the first time the daily count has fallen below 80 since March 28.

The state reported Saturday that 324 people are currently hospitalized with complications caused by the virus, 23 fewer than on Friday. The total number of Maryland residents hospitalized since March totals 15,119. The figure surpassed 15,000 Thursday.

The testing volume reported Saturday, 37,131 tests, is the second-highest daily figure reported to date, trailing only the 40,704 tests reported Aug. 8.

Maryland officials warned Wednesday that it could be six to eight months until a vaccine be distributed, in a best-case scenario.

Baltimore Sun reporter Ben Leonard contributed to this article.

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