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Maryland reports highest coronavirus positivity rate since early June and 45 deaths

Maryland reported 45 deaths tied to COVID-19 Wednesday, along with 2,628 new coronavirus cases and its highest seven-day positivity rate since early June.

Maryland has now reported 1,195 deaths in December, the most of any month besides May. In November and December, Maryland has reported 1,681 deaths, 29.5% of the death total.

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The state’s 14-day new daily death average was 41 as of Wednesday, down from 43 as of Tuesday. The pandemic high is 52, reached in May.

Maryland has now reported 1,000 or more cases every day after Nov. 3 and more than 2,000 cases for all but three days in December.

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The state’s seven-day positivity rate was 8.22%, up from 8.1% Tuesday. The daily positivity rate reported Wednesday was 8.77%.

The state’s 14-day new daily case average was 2,280 as of Wednesday, up slightly from Tuesday but a figure that has fallen from a pandemic high of 2,757 as of Dec. 14.

The state reported 1,756 people hospitalized with virus-related complications Wednesday, up from 1,725 Tuesday. Hospitalizations have been above 1,600 since Dec. 8 and were at a pandemic high of 1,799 Dec. 15.

Among those hospitalized, 410 required intensive care, down from 420 Tuesday.

Wednesday’s data bring Maryland to a total of 273,689 confirmed virus cases and 5,681 deaths since March.

Among those reported to have died Wednesday, all but four were in their 60s or older, the exceptions all being people in their 50s. Marylanders in their 60s or older have made up more than 87% of deaths in the state despite representing less than 20% of confirmed cases. Marylanders 50 or older have made up more than 95% of deaths statewide during the pandemic.

In Western Maryland, the state’s virus epicenter in recent weeks, Allegany and Garrett counties have seen their case rates decline significantly, but Washington County’s case rate was the highest in the state as of Tuesday.

Washington County’s seven-day average case rate per 100,000 people was 89.09 as of Tuesday, more than double the statewide average of 37.01. The county added 178 new cases Wednesday — more than 2% of its pandemic total in a single day — and five deaths.

After having the highest case rate of any county statewide during the pandemic just over three weeks ago, Allegany County reported a seven-day average case rate per 100,000 people of 40.78 as of Tuesday. That’s the lowest it has been since early November.

Garrett County’s seven-day average case rate per 100,000 people was 48.74 as of Tuesday, well below where it was just over three weeks ago — at 122.11 as of Dec. 6. The county reported five new deaths Wednesday, bringing its pandemic death total to 49.

Baltimore City and Baltimore County had seven-day average case rates per 100,000 people below the statewide average as of Tuesday, at 30.28 and 28.27, respectively.

As of Wednesday, 36,669 people have now been vaccinated statewide, according to the state’s data. That’s 0.61% of the state population.

Nationwide, the pace of COVID-19 vaccine distribution has been slower than expected, falling well short so far of a planned 20 million vaccines distributed by the end of the year.

In Maryland, more than 80% of vaccines allocated haven’t been administered. A report Tuesday from Bloomberg put Maryland as last in vaccine rollout among states.

The slowdown comes amid news of the first reported instances of a COVID-19 variant in the United States Tuesday in Colorado and California. The new variant, which has been found in the United Kingdom, is thought to spread more easily, but officials believe vaccines will work against it.

In the CBS interview Wednesday, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said the state is “very concerned” about the new strain. There have been no signs of it appearing in Maryland yet, the Republican said, but “there’s no way to stop the virus from sneaking across.”

“Our entire team has been focused on what to do when we do have to face that,” Hogan said.

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