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Maryland again tops 1,500 new COVID cases, pushing 2-week average to highest in 2 months

Maryland topped 1,500 new coronavirus cases again Saturday, continuing to push its two-week average of new daily cases in the wrong direction, state health officials reported.

The state reported 1,584 new cases, one day after reporting 1,840, the most since late January. Over the last two weeks, Maryland has averaged 1,324 new infections daily, the highest 14-day average since Feb. 11.

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The increase came as the state reported a single-day record of 94,773 COVID-19 vaccinations and continued to expand eligibility to more residents.

Here’s how the state’s COVID-19 indicators stacked up:

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Cases

With Saturday’s new cases, the state’s pandemic case count climbed to 425,247.

The 14-day average of new daily cases, which had dropped from nearly 3,000 in January to below 800 at the beginning of March, topped 1,000 on March 27 and continued climbing.

Deaths

Twenty more Marylanders were reported dead from COVID-19, bringing to 8,258 the number of fatalities since health officials began tracking the disease in March 2020.

Hospitalizations

The state reported 1,250 hospitalizations, one more than Friday. Saturday marked the 13th straight day with more than 1,000 people hospitalized in Maryland facing the effects of the coronavirus.

The state said 291 of those patients required intensive care.

Testing Positivity

The state’s average testing positivity rate was 5.4%, down from 5.59% the day before.

The rate, which measures the average number of coronavirus tests returned positive over the last seven days, has been relatively flat in April, yet remains above the World Health Organization’s 5% benchmark for relaxing restrictions.

The rate was at its highest — topping 9% — following the winter holidays.

Baltimore City’s rate was 5.89%. Baltimore-area counties above the state average included Harford (8.67%), Anne Arundel (7.21%), Baltimore (6.75%) and Carroll (6.57%). Howard County was below the state average at 4.65%.

The number of tests performed, 43,832, was 620 lower than the day before.

Vaccinations

The state topped 90,000 vaccinations for the first time. Overall, it has reported 3.3 million vaccinations and a record 7-day average of 64,875 shots per day.

About 1.3 million people, or about 22% of the state’s 6 million residents, have been fully vaccinated, the state data shows.

Maryland has been expanding eligibility for shots and opening more sites to receive them. All Marylanders age 16 and older can now get vaccinated at a mass vaccination site. Beginning Monday, they will be eligible through all other providers as well.

According to the governor’s office, the mass vaccination sites in Hagerstown, Salisbury and at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore are offering a limited number of walk-up, no-appointment vaccinations from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

More than 675,000 Marylanders have pre-registered for an appointment at a mass vaccination site, the state said. Residents can go to covidvax.maryland.gov or call 1-855-MD-GOVAX (1-855-634-6829).

More than 2 million — and more than three-quarters of Marylanders 65 and older — have received a first dose.

The Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines both require a two-dose regimen. Fewer Maryland residents have received Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot vaccine, which was approved for use after the other two shots.

Maryland will be receiving fewer Johnson & Johnson vaccines than expected — a blow to the vaccination campaign even as the number of vaccinations approaches 100,000.

Gov. Larry Hogan said Friday he’s been given little information from federal authorities, who supply the vaccines to states, but believes the shortages are related to a mishap at the Emergent BioSolutions manufacturing plant in East Baltimore that ended in the disposal of an estimated 15 million Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses.

Data continues to show Black Marylanders and those identifying as Latino have been vaccinated at low rates relative to white residents.

In a Saturday news release, the governor’s office said it has been working to bridge the gap, touting the efforts of the state’s Vaccine Equity Taskforce.

The task force, headed by Maryland National Guard Brig. Gen. Janeen Birckhead, has launched mobile vaccine clinics to get to hard-to-reach populations. Its goal, the governor’s office said, is to partner with local health departments to focus vaccination efforts on “underserved, vulnerable, and hard-to-reach populations to ensure the equitable delivery of vaccines.”

Last week, Greenbelt Mayor Colin Byrd, a Democrat, said Hogan, a Republican, prematurely lifted coronavirus restrictions and constructed a vaccination campaign that left people of color behind. Greenbelt is in Prince George’s County, which has lagged behind other jurisdictions in getting residents shots.

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