As concern about the spread of highly contagious coronavirus variants grows, Maryland reported more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases for the second day in a row, as hospitalizations also crept up, according to state health department data.
Here’s how the rest of the state’s coronavirus numbers looked Thursday:
Maryland health officials reported 1,297 coronavirus infections, bring the state’s pandemic case count to 421,823.There have been at least 1,000 new cases in seven of the last nine days.
Twenty-one more people were reported dead from COVID-19, meaning the disease has caused 8,224 fatalities in Maryland since health officials began to track it in March 2020.
With 1,216 people in Maryland hospitals battling the coronavirus, 16 more than the day before, the state has logged 11 days straight of at least 1,000 people hospitalized with the illness.
Of those still hospitalized Thursday, 281 required intensive care, four more than the day before.
In an appearance Thursday morning on WBAL Radio, Gov. Larry Hogan said the state had seen a slight increase in hospitalizations among people in their 20s, 30s and 40s. He attributed the development to the spread of more contagious variations of the virus.
“Unfortunately these new, more contagious variants that are making people sicker, are spreading like wildfire across the country,” Hogan said. “They’re hitting younger people.”
Maryland laboratories have confirmed a second case of the coronavirus variant traced back to Brazil, as other strains of the virus first detected in the United Kingdom and South Africa continue to spread, data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show.
As of Tuesday, there had been 711 COVID-19 cases caused by the three coronavirus variants, with 665 attributable to the U.K. strain, CDC data showed.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC director, said Wednesday the variant initially identified in the U.K. has become the dominant strain of the virus in the U.S.
The mutation first found in South Africa has caused 44 infections in Maryland. Both it and the U.K variant were first discovered in Maryland in January, while the mutation traced to Brazil was detected here in February.
Though new daily cases remain elevated, the state’s average testing positivity rate declined for a second day in a row, dropping by 0.15 percentage points to 5.56%.
The rate, which measures the average number of coronavirus tests returned positive over the last seven days, is still above the World Health Organization’s 5% benchmark for relaxing restrictions.
Health officials reported Thursday that 76,685 more coronavirus vaccines were administered statewide, pushing the number of doses administered since Dec. 14 past 3.2 million.
About 35,468 people received their first dose of the two-shot immunizations made by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, while 30,191 more completed the regimens, health officials reported Thursday. An additional 11,026 people received one of Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot immunizations.
In all, about 1.23 million Marylanders have been inoculated fully.
Vaccines by age:
Almost 75% of Maryland residents 75 and older have received at least one dose of a vaccine, according to state health department data.
Vaccines by race:
Approximately 3.2 times as many white people have been fully vaccinated in Maryland as Black people, health department data shows. Meanwhile, white people, who make up about 58.5% of the state’s population, have received about 2.7 times as many first doses as Black people, who account for about 31% of Maryland’s residents.
Latino residents make up about 11% of the population yet they have received about 5.5% of the first doses administered statewide for which the recipients ethnicity was known. About 4.3% of the people who’ve been completely immunized and whose ethnicity was known identify as Latino.
Vaccines by county:
Talbot County has seen the largest share if its residents fully vaccinated. About 29.5% of its approximately 37,000 people have completed their immunizations. Not far behind are Worcester County, also on the Eastern Shore, and Howard County, both of which have seen more than 25% of their people fully vaccinated.
Neighbors Prince George’s and Charles counties continue to lag the rest of the state in terms of the shares of their respective populations completely vaccinated. About 13.4% of Prince George’s roughly 909,000 people have completed their vaccines. Roughly 14.4% of Charles’ 163,000 residents are completely inoculated.