The total number of coronavirus cases in Maryland surpassed the 80,000 mark Wednesday, with state health officials reporting 627 new cases of the illness. More than 1,000,000 tests have been conducted.
The rise brings Maryland’s infection total to 80,172 confirmed cases.
There are 505 people currently hospitalized with the virus, an increase in 21 over the previous day and the highest number since June 25, when 511 patients were hospitalized. The number of overall hospitalizations has risen for five consecutive days. Of those hospitalized, 137 currently require intensive care.
In all, the virus and its effects have killed at least 3,276 Marylanders since March 18.
With cases rising in younger people, health officials have sounded the alarm on a spike, urging Gov. Larry Hogan to reconsider facets of his Phase 2 reopening plan. In Baltimore, officials announced Wednesday a halt to indoor dining in restaurants and mandated citizens wear masks in all public spaces when social distancing was not possible.
The state has also conducted more than 1 million tests, with more than 21,000 new tests bringing the total to 1,000,179 as of Wednesday.
The highest number of tests have been in Montgomery, Prince George’s and Baltimore counties, followed by Baltimore City.
Hogan said Wednesday that delays in obtaining test results is “a is a big concern of ours.”
”As we’re seeing states across the country have serious spikes in infections, the demand for testing is ramping up dramatically. We’re seeing states that are sort of out of control,” the governor said during an online meeting of the Board of Public Works.
”And so that is really slowing down many of these private labs. Most of our private labs are slowing down not as a result of anything happening here in Maryland but as a result of that huge demand nationwide.”
Hogan said some labs were seeing 10-day lags before results are available. ”The tests that come back that late are not even really valuable,” he said.
It’s unclear how many, if any, of the tests conducted are from the half-million stockpile of tests Hogan procured from South Korea in April. The Hogan administration has declined to say exactly how many of those tests, purchased for nearly $10 million, have been put into use.
The state’s positivity rate was 4.49% Wednesday. That’s the 28th day straight that the seven-day average was below 5%.
The World Health Organization recommends governments see positivity rates of below 5% for 14 consecutive days before easing virus-related restrictions. Maryland began reopening before reaching that point.
Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus research center determines positivity rate differently than the state by using the number of individuals tested rather than the total overall tests. By that calculus, Hopkins has Maryland’s positivity rate at 5.38%.
Baltimore’s overall positivity rate is 9.2%, while the 7-day average is 5.8%, according to figures from the city.
Much higher positivity rates have been reported in areas such as the 21224 ZIP code, which includes neighborhoods such as Canton, Highlandtown, and Patterson Park. The current positivity rate for that zipcode is about 15.4%, according to the city’s health department. Cumulative positivity rates there have been as high as 22%, said Baltimore health commissioner Letitia Dzirasa.
Maryland health officials and Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. have asked Gov. Larry Hogan to put a stop to indoor dining in the state.
This week, leaders in New York added Maryland and 9 other states to a list of more than 30 total states under quarantine because of “significant community spread.” Anyone traveling from Maryland to New York must quarantine for 14 days.
Baltimore Sun reporter Jeff Barker contributed to this article.