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Maryland sees 912 new coronavirus cases, 1,076 hospitalizations as state enters Phase 2 of reopening

Maryland health officials reported 912 new cases of the coronavirus and a total of 1,076 people hospitalized Friday, hours before Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan was scheduled to take effect.

The numbers bring Maryland’s accumulated case count to 56,770 and show a continued downward trend in the number of people needing medical care for COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.

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The state also reported 34 additional deaths Friday, pushing the total number of fatalities as a result of the virus to 2,580, which does not include 122 new deaths that were probably linked to COVID-19 but not confirmed by a laboratory test.

The testing picture in Maryland continued to improve with the positivity rate, defined as the percentage of positive cases compared to total swabs administered, declining further to 8.4%, half a percentage point lower than Thursday.

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While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend a 15% or lower positivity rate for 14 consecutive days as a barometer for states to lift restrictions, the World Health Organization and Johns Hopkins — which also has been tracking positivity rates across U.S. states and territories — advises states aim for 5% positivity or lower.

The state has administered 405,414 total coronavirus tests, which officials described Friday as something of a milestone, owed in part to the repurposing of the clinical lab at the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Institute for Genome Sciences as a COVID-19 testing lab.

On Wednesday, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said the new site will aid the state in testing for both the coronavirus and the regular flu this fall as some predict a “second wave” of COVID-19.

“We are, and will continue to be, much better positioned for that than almost any other state,” the Republican governor said at a news conference in Annapolis. He cited the lab as the backbone of Maryland’s long-term testing strategy.

He said he worked with the medical school to repurpose the lab after it became clear that the federal government would not assist the state in procuring more testing space.

“One of our biggest challenges was acquiring the necessary lab capacity,” Hogan said. “After several months of effort, the reality is we still have not been able to access any of them,” he said of federal labs.

As testing expands, the black, Hispanic and Latinx communities continue to account for the majority of cases. On Friday, the state reported 16,208 cases among black Marylanders and 14,573 among Hispanics, making up 54% of the state’s total. Both groups combined constitute roughly 40% of the state’s population.

Marylanders between 30 and 39 years old lead all other age groups in coronavirus cases, though adults over 80 account for most of the known fatalities. Females lead males in number of cases, with 29,573 compared to 27,197.

Residents in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties account for more than 28,000 of the state’s cases, followed by Baltimore and Baltimore County, which, combined have over 12,000 cases.

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