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Maryland adds 2,432 new coronavirus cases, 31 deaths on Christmas Day

Maryland health officials reported 2,432 more cases of the coronavirus on Friday and 31 additional deaths over the 24-hour period, during which families across the country celebrated an unconventional Christmas holiday marked by smaller gatherings, virtual greetings and quieter cheer.

Friday’s metrics bring the state’s overall case count to at least 263,160 and the death toll to 5,493. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s estimate Maryland’s death rate per 100,000 people is 93.

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The Maryland Department of Health reported the state’s positivity rate at 7.11%, about the same as the day before. The Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, which calculates the testing positivity rate differently from Maryland’s health department, reported the metric at 5.49%. The World Health Organization has advised U.S. governments against lifting restrictions on gathering and capacity limits until positivity rates reach at least 5% or lower for 14 consecutive days.

The state has administered over 5 million tests to Marylanders over the past several months. Hundreds of testing sites have been set up to accommodate the demand, which has swelled to a volume of several thousand daily swabs. Many sites have been closed for Christmas Day and the following day, according to the state health department’s website.

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On Friday, 1,721 Marylanders were hospitalized for complications associated with COVID-19. The disease caused by the virus has hospitalized at least 25,541 people statewide since Maryland officials began tracking cases in March, reaching a peak of 1,799 on Dec. 15. Most of Friday’s hospitalized patients, 1,297, were being treated in acute care settings, with another 424 in intensive care.

The state began its mass vaccination campaign last week, starting with front-line health care workers before moving to include nursing home residents and their caretakers on Wednesday. Health officials reported 16,902 people vaccinated as of Friday, a share of about 0.28% of the state’s 6 million people, a proportion that is expected to grow exponentially as distribution continues.

All 24 of Maryland’s counties have been struck with the illness, with some more concentrated with cases and deaths than others. Prince George’s and Montgomery counties account for the largest share of the state’s total cases, with a combined 96,281 infections and 2,083 deaths. Baltimore County, Baltimore City and Anne Arundel County follow, with a total of 90,519 cases and 1,870 overall deaths among the three localities.

Other jurisdictions have seen their metrics surge in recent weeks. Washington and Garrett counties, for example, reported testing positivity rates in the double-digits this week.

Black and Latino communities in Maryland have been disproportionately concentrated with disease and death, mirroring the national disparities emerging along line of race, ethnicity and ZIP code. Black residents account for about 37% of the fatalities in Maryland, despite making up about 29% of the state’s population. Latino Marylanders, amounting to about 10% of Maryland’s residency, make up nearly 18% of the cases, according to state figures.

Adults over 80 account for the vast majority of deaths caused by COVID-19 in Maryland, at 2,569. But state metrics show nearly 100 people under 40 have died as a result of the coronavirus as well, including one child under 10 and 88 people in their 20s and 30s.

Public health professionals nationwide have cautioned against celebrating the holidays with non-immediate family members and friends who live outside of the household. Still, 16,368 departing passengers flowed through Baltimore-Washington International Airport the day before Christmas Eve, more people than any day since mid-March, a BWI spokesman said Wednesday.

The Transportation Security Administration screened 1,191,123 individuals at airport checkpoints nationwide Wednesday, the highest checkpoint volume since March 16, when 1,257,823 people were screened, TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said in a tweet Thursday morning. Gov. Larry Hogan has urged Marylanders to avoid nonessential out-of-state travel during the holiday season.

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