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Maryland adds 579 coronavirus cases, 13 deaths

Maryland health officials added 579 cases of the coronavirus and 13 deaths to the state’s tally Thursday, slightly higher than the day before but bringing down the state’s infection count over a 14-day average for another consecutive day.

The state has recorded over 93,000 confirmed cases resulting in 3,415 deaths since health officials began tracking the virus in March.

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The state’s testing positivity rate, closely monitored nationwide as a key metric to understanding the virus’ spread in a given jurisdiction, was reported at 4.03%, its lowest to date. Johns Hopkins, which also tracks positivity rates but using a different formula than Maryland, listed the state at 5.94%, higher than the recommended rate of 5%.

Maryland has measured its positivity rate at under 5% since June 25. Five counties have positivity rates above 5%, according to state data: Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Calvert County, Prince George’s County and Worcester County. Baltimore’s positivity rate has dropped to 5.44%, its lowest point in about month, the state reported Thursday.

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Currently, 535 Marylanders are hospitalized for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, a 20-person drop from the day before. But the number of people occupying beds in intensive care ticked up slightly, from 134 Wednesday to 139 Thursday.

This week’s figures mark a relative decrease from last week, when Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan tightened mask restrictions and cautioned state residents against traveling to states with positivity rates higher than 10%.

Some counties, though, such as Worcester County on Maryland’s Eastern Shore — home to Ocean City and its tourist-packed beaches — have continued to see sharp increases in infections. In the last month, Worcester County’s cases rose from 296 on July 5 to 664 on Thursday, a more than two-fold hike. The positivity rate there has risen by nearly 88% since July 31, to 6.50%, state data shows.

Still, Worcester County’s infection count remains significantly lower than in much of the state. Prince George’s and Montgomery County continue to lead all other jurisdictions in cases, with more than 23,000 and 18,000 cases respectively. Baltimore County, Baltimore City and Anne Arundel County follow, with 12,777, 12,075 and 7,200 infections in each.

People in their 20s and 30s account for the majority of cases, making up nearly 34,000 infections combined. Older adults and people over 80 constitute most of the state’s deaths, many of them stemming from infectious in nursing homes. On Wednesday, the Trump administration publicly criticized Maryland’s handling of its older adult population, saying a lack of coronavirus pandemic-related inspections of nursing homes jeopardized the safety of its most vulnerable residents.

Meanwhile, Black Marylanders make up the heaviest-hit demographic among the reported racial and ethnic groups in the state, with nearly 29,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 1,400 deaths. Hispanics and Latinos, despite accounting for less than 10% of Maryland’s population, make up over 23,000 infections and 395 deaths.

The state has administered nearly 1.35 million tests on more than 16% of its population, according to a Thursday news release sent out by Hogan’s office.

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