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Maryland reports 1,566 newly confirmed coronavirus cases, 20 new deaths

Maryland health officials reported 1,566 new cases of the coronavirus and 20 more deaths Sunday.

The additions bring the state’s total to 363,650 cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus. As of Sunday, 7,170 people have died due to the disease or complications from it, according to the state health department.

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It marks the fourth day in a row that Maryland has reported at least 1,500 daily cases as the state continues to see a rise in testing. Earlier in February, case counts dropped below 1,000 for the first time since November, but wintry weather also resulted in a significant decrease in daily testing.

In addition, Sunday’s count marks the third day in a row that state health officials reported that Maryland’s daily positivity rate — the percentage of positive tests reported over a 24-hour period — dropped below 5%, the rate the World Health Organization recommends jurisdictions reach before relaxing social distancing and business restrictions.

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The statewide seven-day average testing positivity rate was 5.73% Sunday, down from 5.83% the day before.

State health officials said 1,402 people in Maryland were hospitalized Sunday due to complications from COVID-19, a decrease of 17 people from Saturday.

The majority of new cases — 62.84% of Sunday’s total — were reported in the state’s five most populous jurisdictions: Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties and Baltimore City, according to state health officials. Those jurisdictions represent more than 65% of the state’s population.

Prince George’s County, the state’s second-most populous jurisdiction with roughly 909,000 residents, reported the most new cases Sunday, with 257. Its seven-day average positivity rate was 7.67%, according to the state health department.

Dorchester County continues to lead the state with a seven-day average new case rate of 38.03 infections per 100,000 residents Sunday, a decline of about three cases from Saturday. Caroline, Dorchester, Somerset and Talbot counties on the Eastern Shore are all above a rate of 30 cases per 100,000 people, compared with the statewide average of 21.68.

Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also shows that Maryland continues to fare better than much of the country and its neighbors in containing the spread of the disease.

According to the CDC, Maryland’s Saturday seven-day average case rate of 22.1 for every 100,000 people was below the national average of 37.6. It also ranked lower than neighboring Pennsylvania (30.8), West Virginia (33.8), Virginia (40.1) and Delaware (38.3).

As for vaccination rates, state health officials reported Sunday that Talbot County, a largely rural county of about 37,000 people, has the highest rate in the state with 14.80% of its population having received their first dose and 3.59% having gotten their second dose. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 30% of the county’s population is 65 years or older.

Meanwhile, Prince George’s County still has the lowest vaccination rate, with 4.01% of residents having received their first dose and 0.84% having gotten their second dose.

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