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Coronavirus hospitalizations hit record high in Maryland

Maryland set a grim record Wednesday, reporting the most people ever hospitalized with the coronavirus during the pandemic.

The 1,715 patients are an increase from 1,653 Tuesday, as current hospitalizations passed a late April pandemic peak of 1,711 Wednesday.About 1,200 more people are now hospitalized with the virus than were as of Nov. 1, when hospitalizations were at 523.

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Maryland also reported 2,692 new coronavirus cases Wednesday and 46 deaths tied to COVID-19, the disease the virus causes.

The deaths reported Wednesday were the most since May, save for two days in the past week — 50 Tuesday and 48 Thursday.

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The state’s 14-day new death average climbed to 31 as of Wednesday after being at nine just a month ago. Maryland’s death toll has climbed quickly since the beginning of November, adding 801 deaths since Nov. 1 after recording 195 in October.

Among those reported to have died Wednesday, all but one were in their 60s or older, including 25 in their 80s or older. The exception was a person in their 50s. Marylanders in their 60s or older have accounted for nearly 4,200 of people who have died statewide, or more than 87%.

The state has now reported 2,000 or more cases for 12 of past 15 days after never doing so before mid-November. The state now has reported 1,000 or more virus cases for 36 consecutive days after only reporting more than 1,000 cases sparingly between early June and the beginning of this more than five-week stretch.

The state’s 14-day daily new case average on Wednesday remained at 2,464 — a pandemic high — blowing past a previous peak of 1,031 set in May. The state also reported its second-highest-ever seven-day average case rate per 100,000 people ever at 44.49 as of Tuesday, down slightly from Monday’s high of 44.8.

Among those hospitalized, 416 required intensive care, up from 396 Tuesday. ICU hospitalizations have more than doubled from 168 as of a month ago.

Deaths and hospitalizations can lag behind a surge in cases, as it can take weeks for some patients’ symptoms to worsen and for some to die.

“It is clear that our worst days of this pandemic are still yet to come in the weeks and months ahead,” Gov. Larry Hogan said in a Tuesday news conference.

In the news conference, Hogan and health officials laid out the state’s vaccine distribution program — first giving shots to health care workers and long-term care facility residents — and said that the first vaccine doses will likely be coming to Maryland next week.

“As we await the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, we need to continue washing our hands, wearing our masks, keeping our distance, and avoiding large gatherings,” Hogan wrote in a tweet Wednesday morning. “We’ve crushed the curve once, and we will do it again.”

Baltimore City, which in the first full day under newly inaugurated Mayor Brandon Scott, opted to shutter indoor and outdoor dining completely, reported 11 new coronavirus deaths Wednesday. The new restrictions, which will go into effect Friday, also include limiting gym, retail, religious and other facilities to 25% capacity.

The city’s seven-day average case rate per 100,000 people was below the statewide average as of Tuesday at 44.07.

Leaders of the state’s seven largest counties and Scott joined a news conference Wednesday afternoon, with some saying the state is at a crucial point in its fight against the virus. Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman said that he will be announcing further restrictions Thursday.

“We must make the tough sacrifices now,” Scott said.

Western Maryland continues to be ravaged by the virus.

Allegany County, with a population of about 70,000, reported seven new deaths Wednesday, bringing its death total to 104. The county also reported 117 new cases, or nearly 3% of its pandemic total, in a single day.

Allegany’s seven-day average case rate per 100,000 people has dropped from a pandemic high of 198.41 as of Sunday, but was still nearly quadruple the statewide average at 170.01 as of Tuesday.

Neighboring Garrett County also added a death and 34 new cases, more than 3% of its pandemic case total. Garrett County’s seven-day average case rate per 100,000 people dipped slightly Tuesday to 116.2, but was still well more than double the statewide average.

Somerset County, which has been hit hard by the virus in recent weeks, saw its seven-day average case rate per 100,000 people spike back up again after a dip, going from 147.79 as of Monday to 161.73, the second-highest mark in the state.

The new data bring the state to a total of 222,653 confirmed virus cases and 4,801 deaths since March.

The state’s reported seven-day positivity rate was 7.74%, up from 7.61% Tuesday.

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