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Maryland adds 801 coronavirus cases Friday as state reports positivity rate under 4% for first time

Maryland health officials measured the state’s testing positivity rate under 4% for the first time Friday following several consecutive weeks of decline.

The state reported 801 new cases of the coronavirus Friday, an uptick from the last three days, and 14 deaths. The metrics bring the state’s confirmed tally to 93,806 infections and 3,429 related fatalities.

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The state’s reported testing positivity rate has not exceeded 5% since June 25. But Johns Hopkins, which also tracks positivity rates across the country, measured Maryland’s at 5.94% Friday using a different formula. On Friday, 15 states met the institution’s recommended positivity rate of 5% or lower.

The difference in Hopkins and state’s rates stems from the data used to calculate them. Maryland calculates positivity rate using the number of positive tests divided by total testing volume, while Hopkins’ rate is determined using the number of people with confirmed cases divided by the number of people tested, meaning individuals receiving multiple positive or negative tests are counted only once in the calculation.

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At its peak, Maryland’s positivity rate in April was nearly 27%, according to state figures. Nearly 1.4 million swabs have been administered, with close to 913,000 coming back negative.

Testing delays at large commercial labs have slowed the result turnout time both nationally and in Maryland, where many residents have waited longer than the recommended 48-hour time frame. Such delays mean the state’s daily figures might be stale and render the testing and contact tracing processes largely ineffective.

As the state’s testing volume increases and the overall positivity rate lowers, some counties have continued to see spikes in cases. Worcester County, home to Ocean City, confirmed 675 total cases Friday, an increase of more than twofold after reporting 301 infections within its borders a month ago. In Talbot County, cases were listed at 384 on Friday, also more than double the 155 infections reported a month earlier.

State health officials are monitoring the situation in Worcester County, where the positivity rate has risen to 6.59%, according to a Friday news release sent out by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s office.

Prince George’s and Montgomery counties continue to lead the state in testing as well as confirmed infections, accounting for a combined total of 41,511 cases. While Prince George’s County’s positivity rate remains higher than the recommended 5%, at 5.8%, Montgomery County’s has dropped to 2.5%, according to state data.

Baltimore County, Baltimore City and Anne Arundel County trail Prince George’s and Montgomery counties with 12,915, 12,239 and 7,243 respective cases. Their positivity rates were listed at 5% in Baltimore County, 5.15% in the city, and 3.38% in Anne Arundel County.

In all, 1,006,824 Marylanders have been tested for COVID-19, representing 16.7% of the state’s population, according to Friday’s news release.

As of Friday, 528 people were listed as hospitalized due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, falling from 535 on Thursday. The number of people in the intensive care unit also fell from 139 to 135 on Friday. In total, 12,978 Marylanders have been hospitalized for COVID-19 since March, state data shows.

Black Marylanders have contracted COVID-19 and died as a result of it at disproportionately high rates. While making up less than 30% of the population, Black people make up more than 30% of the infections and over 40% of the deaths. Hispanic and Latino Marylanders, making up less than 10% of the state’s population, have also been hit excessively hard by the coronavirus, constituting 25% of the known cases and nearly 12% of the fatalities, according to Friday’s figures.

While older adults, especially people over 80, make up the vast majority of Maryland’s death toll as a result of the virus, young people in their 20s and 30s represent the hardest-hit age groups in terms of infections. Those two groups combined account for over 34,000 cases of the coronavirus and 65 deaths.

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