Maryland reported Sunday 2,638 new cases of the coronavirus and 17 more deaths as the state continues to post daily infection rates above 5% and see more community spread in the state’s most populated regions.
Sunday’s additions bring the state’s total to 234,647 cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, and 4,954 people who have died due to the disease or complications from it.
As of Sunday, 1,679 people in Maryland are hospitalized due to complications from COVID-19, 40 fewer than Saturday.
However, the decrease in patients is entirely attributable to releases from acute care units, as 58 COVID-19 patients were discharged from such treatment in the past 24 hours.
As for intensive care units, the state saw 18 more people admitted in the past 24 hours for a total of 424 patients, the highest such total since June 5.
Doses of the coronavirus vaccine are scheduled to start being delivered and administered to the state’s hospital workers as well as nursing home residents and employees as early as Monday.
The statewide seven-day average positivity rate is at 7.41% as of Sunday, effectively flat with Saturday’s rate.
While Sunday’s count did not reach the 3,500-case plateau the state saw Saturday, Maryland officials also reported roughly 15,000 fewer completed tests than it did Saturday. Despite the drop in new cases, Maryland reported a daily positivity rate of 6.66% Sunday, the same rate officials reported Saturday.
The state has reported 38,200 cases in the past two weeks, or more than 16% of the state’s cases since officials started tracking the deadly disease in mid-March.
Maryland is now one of 47 states to have higher than a 5% positivity rate, the rate the World Health Organization recommends jurisdictions get under before relaxing restrictions on businesses and social gatherings. Maryland has not reported a daily positivity rate under 5% since Nov. 7.
While the surge had seen a disproportionate number of cases coming from rural counties, particularly Western Maryland, Sunday’s numbers show that the latest cases more closely lined up with the state’s population hubs.
The state reported that 68.1% of cases, 1,792, came from the state’s five most populated jurisdictions in the Baltimore-Washington D.C. corridor: Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Prince George’s and Montgomery counties along with Baltimore City. For comparison, about 65.52% of Maryland’s population lives in these five jurisdictions.
Baltimore City and Anne Arundel County both moved to close indoor and outdoor dining last week.
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Montgomery County, Maryland’s most populated county with more than 1 million residents, led all jurisdictions with 504 newly reported cases Sunday. While it leads the state in newly reported cases, its seven-day positivity rate, 6.06%, remains about a percentage point below the statewide average.
As for Western Maryland, Allegany and Garrett counties — which had been a focus for health officials after their infection rates skyrocketed in November — reported a combined 31 cases between the two jurisdictions. For comparison, Allegany County alone has several days this month reporting more than 100 daily COVID-19 cases in December.
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While the pandemic has disproportionately affected Black and Hispanic/Latino residents since mid-March, recent data continues to show that Maryland’s white residents are representing a larger portion of recently reported cases.
Of the 28,355 cases reported this month, about 44.45% of those cases, 12,604, were diagnosed in white residents, the leading demographic among all races. In the early days of the pandemic in the spring and summer, Blacks were the leading demographic for new cases.
The change in demographics is also reflected in mortality rates, as whites are dying at a disproportionate rate, even when compared with the fact that about 50% of the state’s residents are white, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Of the 438 people who have died from the virus since Dec. 1, 279 of them, or about 63.7%, were white. Officials reported that, of the 17 people reported dead Sunday, 14 were white.
The state does not have racial demographic data for 33,934 COVID-19 cases.
This story has been updated to include the most recent testing statistics.