Maryland reported 61 deaths tied to COVID-19, the most fatalities reported in a single day since May 12, and 2,401 new confirmed coronavirus cases Tuesday.
The state also set a new hospitalization high for the fifth time in the past week.
“While many of us have grown numb to the daily statistics, each of these deaths represents somebody’s loved one, and each is a devastating loss for our state,” Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, wrote in a statement Tuesday. “The weeks and months ahead may well be the most difficult we have experienced since the beginning of the pandemic. I’m calling on Marylanders to stand in solidarity against this deadly virus.”
After reporting fewer than 200 deaths in October, Maryland has seen more than 1,000 deaths in November and about half of December. The state’s 14-day new daily death average rose to 37 as of Tuesday, the highest it has been since early June.
Maryland has reported 2,000 or more cases for 18 of past 21 days, including every day in December, after never doing so before mid-November. The state has now also reported 1,000 or more confirmed virus cases for 42 consecutive days after reaching that mark only sparingly between early June and this stretch.
The state’s 14-day new daily case average was 2,731 as of Tuesday, the highest it has been during the pandemic outside of Monday.
The state reported 1,799 people hospitalized with virus complications Tuesday, up from 1,742 Monday. There are nearly 1,300 more people hospitalized with virus complications now than there were at the beginning of November, when 523 people were hospitalized.
Among those hospitalized, 411 required intensive care, up from 404 Monday. That’s up from 238 ICU hospitalizations as of a month ago.
Among those reported to have died Tuesday, all but four were in their 60s or older. The four exceptions were a person in their 30s, one in their 40s and two in their 50s. The person in their 30s who died was the 57th person in their 30s to have died statewide.
People in their 60s or older have made up more than 87% of deaths statewide during the pandemic, a share that has risen in recent weeks. Residents in their 60s and older have represented less than 20% of cases statewide.
Younger people have been more likely to test positive for the virus. As of Monday, the positivity rate among people below the age of 35 was a full percentage point higher than for the rate among people above the age of 35, at 8.17% compared to 7.17%.
The new numbers came a day after Maryland administered some of its first vaccines to health care workers statewide. Nursing home residents and staff as well as health care workers will be the first to receive vaccines.
“Yesterday was a day of great hope as the very first Marylanders were vaccinated for COVID-19, but as it is often said, it’s always darkest before dawn,” Hogan wrote in the statement.
The new data bring the state to a total of 239,362 confirmed virus cases and 5,039 deaths since March.
Western Maryland remains a virus hotspot, but Garrett and Allegany counties saw their case rates continue to decline Tuesday.
Allegany County’s seven-day average case rate per 100,000 people, while still the second-highest in the state at 107.12 as of Monday, was about half of what it was as of just over a week ago. The statewide seven-day average case rate per 100,000 people was 46.39 as of Monday.
But Allegany County also reported 108 new cases Tuesday — more than 2% of its pandemic case total in a single day — along with five deaths.
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Allegany’s western neighbor Garrett County saw its seven-day average case rate per 100,000 people dropped to 79.76 as of Monday from 122.11 as of Dec. 6. The county also reported three deaths, bringing its death toll to 23.
But Allegany County’s eastern neighbor, Washington County, has seen case rates trend in the wrong direction. The county’s seven-day average case rate per 100,000 people has climbed from 55.61 as of Dec. 3 to 81.62 as of Monday.
Those three counties combined for nearly 10% of new cases statewide Tuesday despite representing about 4% of the state’s population.
On Maryland’s Eastern Shore, Somerset County still had the highest seven-day average case rate per 100,000 people in the state at 137.19, but that rate has fallen from 181.25 as of Dec. 2.
The county has been the site of a significant increase in cases at the Eastern Correctional Institution, Maryland’s largest prison, in recent weeks.
The state’s reported seven-day positivity rate was 7.53%, up slightly from 7.46% Monday.The state’s daily positivity rate reported Tuesday was 8.58%.
This story will be updated.