Maryland officials reported 1,128 new cases of the coronavirus Monday and six more deaths, the second time in the past three days that more than 1,000 new cases were confirmed.
Monday’s additions bring the state’s total to 84,876 cases of the COVID-19 illness caused by the virus. In total, 3,315 people have died due to the disease or complications from it since officials began tracking the virus in March.
The number of new cases comes without any significant increase in testing compared with the day before. Maryland reported 23,400 tests completed in the past 24 hours, 1,355 more than the 22,045 completed Sunday.
It also comes well short of the record-setting 34,874 tests reported Saturday, another day of more than 1,000 new cases in a 24-hour period.
While cases are again surging, hospitalizations declined slightly. As of Monday, 536 people in Maryland are hospitalized due to complications from COVID-19, four fewer than Sunday.
Hospitalizations have risen by more than 150 patients since July 10, when 385 people were hospitalized due to the disease, the fewest reported since March. But they’re still well below the peak of 1,711 patients, reported April 30.
Officials reported that 5.86% of COVID-19 tests completed Monday were positive, the highest single-day positivity rate since July 2. The statewide seven-day average testing positivity rate is at 4.61%, an increase of 0.14% compared with Sunday.
The World Health Organization recommends 14 straight days of a positivity rate below 5% before governments begin easing virus-related restrictions. Maryland began its reopening process before hitting that benchmark, but the state hasn’t reported a seven-day average positivity rate above 5% in a month.
Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus research center, which calculates positivity rates based on people tested rather than testing volume, has Maryland’s seven-day rolling positivity rate at 5.69%
Baltimore City and Baltimore County accounted for more than a third of the new cases, with the city adding 226 and the county adding 200. The two jurisdictions represent less than a quarter of the state’s population.
For comparison, Prince George’s and Montgomery counties — the state’s two most populous counties and original hot spots for the virus — saw 212 and 144 new cases Monday, respectively.
The 20783 ZIP code in Prince George’s County, which has consistently led the state with the most cases per ZIP code, added nine more Monday, for a total of 2,539 cases since March.
Baltimore City and Prince George’s County now have seven-day average positivity testing rates above 6%, with Baltimore at 6.22% and Prince George’s at 6.16%. Before Monday, none of Maryland’s jurisdictions with at least 500 total cases had seven-day positivity rates above 6%, according to state data.
Worcester County — an Eastern Shore county of roughly 53,000 people and home to Ocean City — has now diagnosed 506 cases of COVID-19, including more than 120 cases since July 18.
Dorchester County has the highest positivity testing rate in the state at 6.7%, but has seen only 319 cases as of Monday.
The pandemic continues to disproportionately affect the state’s Black and Latino populations. Roughly two-thirds of the state’s confirmed COVID-19 cases where data on race was available, 46,555, were Black or Hispanic residents. The two demographic groups represent less than half the state’s population.
In comparison, white residents, who constitute more than 58% of the state’s population, represented less than a quarter of all confirmed cases with 18,284.
However, white people have a higher mortality rate compared with other races, with about 7.66% of cases proving fatal. About 5.33% of cases among Blacks and about 1.83% of cases among Latinos were fatal.
The state does not have racial demographic data for 14,514 COVID-19 cases.
Younger adults continue to be driving the increases in new cases, as the majority of cases were diagnosed in residents younger than 50 years old.
Maryland officials reported that more than a quarter of the new cases, 299, were from residents 20 to 29 years old, a demographic that makes up about 13% of the state’s population, according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics.
A little more than 60% of new cases, 681, were from people 20 to 49 years old. The age demographic represents about 40% of the state’s population, according to census statistics.
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A growing group of leaders and advocates have called for stricter restrictions on businesses and gatherings, as the state has yet to see fewer than 500 cases in a single day in two weeks. Other states are also seeing more significant surges in new cases, with 18 other states setting single-day case records this month, according to The New York Times.
The Maryland Public Interest Research Group called on Republican Gov. Larry Hogan to “immediately tighten restrictions statewide,” sending him a letter with the signatures of nearly 500 public health professionals. It’s part of a broader effort by the national Public Interest Research Group to pressure local government leaders to institute more restrictions amid the surge in cases.
“Our state is one of 16 states currently rated ‘red - trending poorly.' It’s time to take a step back,” the group wrote in a statement.
Hogan has said there are “concerning trends” of people younger than 35 contracting the disease, but said during a news conference Wednesday that “we do not intend to suddenly close all of our small businesses.”