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Maryland completes second week with COVID positivity rate below 5%

One day after Maryland surpassed 5 million coronavirus vaccine doses administered, the state on Friday completed its second week with a statewide positivity rate below 5% and reported fewer than 1,000 new cases statewide for the ninth straight day.

Here’s a breakdown of Maryland’s COVID-19 indicators as of Friday, according to the state health department:

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Cases

Maryland health officials reported 768 new, confirmed COVID-19 cases Friday.

The daily tally surged as high as 1,840 during April, as health officials feared premature reopenings could complicate the progress of vaccinators statewide.

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In total, Maryland has reported 452,035 cases of COVID-19.

Deaths

The state reported 11 more people died from the virus, which has taken 8,642 lives in Maryland.

Hospitalizations

For the sixth straight day, fewer than 1,000 people with COVID-19 are being treated in state hospitals, an improvement from last month, when as many as 1,282 people were hospitalized with the disease at a time.

As of Friday, hospitals were treating 859 COVID-19 patients, down from 901 Thursday.

Positivity Rate

The state’s seven-day average testing positivity rate dipped to 3.53% from 3.66% the day before.

The rate, which measures the percentage of positive tests, has been below 5% for 14 days, an indicator that there’s sufficient testing or a relatively low infection rate.

The World Health Organization recommends that areas remain below 5% for two weeks before lifting virus-related restrictions. Maryland already has done so, and last week Gov. Larry Hogan lifted a requirement that face coverings be worn outdoors in public spaces.

Maryland reported 41,430 completed tests in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number to nearly 9.9 million over the course of the pandemic.

Vaccinations

Vaccinators in Maryland have administered 49,006 more doses of the COVID-19 vaccines as of Friday. That includes 15,817 first doses of the two-dose Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, and 31,161 second doses. It also includes 2,028 doses of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Vaccinations by age

So far, 81.9% of Marylanders 65 and older have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. That’s in addition to 66.8% of those between 50 and 64 and 50.3% of those between 18 and 49. In the youngest group of eligible recipients — 16 and 17-year-olds — 37.1% have received at least one shot.

Vaccinations by race

The number of fully vaccinated White Marylanders is 2.68 times more than the number of fully vaccinated Black residents, a disparity that has been slowly closing in recent months.

Black Marylanders, who make up about 31% of the state population, represent only about 22.4% of those fully vaccinated whose race was known, according to state data. White residents, who account for 59% of the overall population, represent 60% of those fully vaccinated.

Experts say that lacking health and transportation infrastructure in communities of color could be contributing, in addition to a distrust of the vaccines and the medical field among some minorities based on historic harms.

Hispanic and Latino Marylanders, too, have received disproportionately fewer vaccines. Despite making up about 11% of the state population, they account for only 5.7% of those fully vaccinated whose ethnicity was known, according to state data.

Vaccinations by county

In Talbot County, Maryland’s most vaccinated but one of its least-populous counties, 45.7% of residents have been fully inoculated against COVID-19. Howard County, the state’s sixth-most-populous jurisdiction, has the second highest vaccination rate, 42.5%.

Somerset County, a small jurisdiction where 23.4% of residents live in poverty, has the lowest rate in the state, with 23.3% of residents fully vaccinated. The Eastern Shore county is 54.2% white and 41.5% Black, according to U.S. Census data.

Baltimore City, which initially lagged behind most other Maryland jurisdictions, has moved into the middle of the pack, with almost 30% of its residents fully vaccinated as of Friday.

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