Maryland has confirmed 761 new cases of the coronavirus, 20 more deaths and 27 new hospitalizations due to the virus as the state has seen a total of 185 new hospitalizations due to the virus in a little less than three weeks.
Wednesday’s additions bring the state’s total to 86,285 cases of the COVID-19 illness caused by the virus. In total, 3,347 people have died due to the disease or complications from it since officials began tracking the virus in March.
As of Wednesday, 571 people in Maryland are hospitalized due to complications from COVID-19, 27 more than Tuesday’s total. An additional 32 people were admitted to acute care units with COVID-19 while five people were released from intensive care, according to the state.
Wednesday’s update marks the most hospitalizations in more than a month, when 602 people were hospitalized with disease on June 22.
Since July 10, when the state reached its lowest hospitalization rate since March with 385 people in acute and intensive care units being treated for COVID-19, 186 additional people have been hospitalized with the disease.
However, while hospitalizations are on the rise, they are still well below the peak of 1,711 patients, reported April 30.
State officials say the hospitalization rate is a key metric to measure when considering a rollback of restrictions on public gatherings.
In addition to the increasing hospitalizations, the single-day positivity rate for Wednesday’s completed tests was at 5.85%, as the state confirmed more cases than Tuesday with thousands fewer tests completed.
According to the state, 15,747 tests were completed in the past 24 hours, 8,197 fewer tests than Tuesday when the state reported 648 new cases.
It’s also the second day this week to see a single-day positivity over 5.8% after Monday saw 5.86% of COVID-19 tests come back positive.
The statewide seven-day average testing positivity rate is at 4.77%, an increase of 0.23% over Tuesday.
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 several weeks.
However, Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus research center has Maryland’s seven-day rolling positivity rate at 5.76%, one of 33 states the university says is above the recommended 5% rate. Hopkins calculates its rate using the number of people to whom tests have been administered, but the state uses the raw number of tests administered. In other words, Hopkins doesn’t count more than one test administered to the same person.
Of Maryland municipalities and counties, Prince George’s County led with the most confirmed cases Wednesday with 174, followed by Baltimore County with 171 and Baltimore City with 124.
With Wednesday’s high single-day positivity rate, the state now has three municipalities — Prince George’s County (6.23%), Baltimore City (6.19%) and Baltimore County (6.07%) — with more than 500 cases and a seven-day average positivity testing rate more than 6%.
Before Monday, none of Maryland’s jurisdictions with at least 500 total cases had seven-day positivity rates above 6%, according to state data.
Two of the state’s less-populated counties on the Eastern Shore — Talbot County and Worcester County — have seen their total number of cases nearly double over the past month after reporting 426 cases combined as of July 1.
The two counties have reported 405 new cases of the coronavirus since the beginning of the month for a total of 831 cases.
Worcester County, with a population of a little less than 53,000 people, now has 508 confirmed cases while Talbot County, with a population of about 37,000 people, has 323 cases. On July 1, Worcester had 289 cases and Talbot had 137.
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, 47,500, were Black or Hispanic residents. The two demographic groups represent less than half the state’s population.
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In comparison, white residents, who constitute more than 58% of the state’s population, or about 50% when accounting for those who identify as Hispanic or Latino, represented less than a quarter of all confirmed cases with 18,746.
However, white people have a higher mortality rate compared with other races, with about 7.52% of cases proving fatal. About 5.21% of cases among Blacks and about 1.81% of cases among Latinos were fatal. All of these rates have been slowly decreasing in recent weeks.
The state does not have racial demographic data for 14,430 COVID-19 cases.
Younger adults continue to contract the disease at disproportionate rates to older Marylanders.
Roughly 43% of Wednesday’s cases, 325, were diagnosed in people aged 20 to 39 years old, a group that represents 27% of the state’s population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Baltimore suspended indoor dining last week and some leaders have called on Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan to re-institute restrictions on state businesses. But the Republican governor said last week “we do not intend to suddenly close all of our small businesses.”