Maryland officials reported 338 new cases of the coronavirus Friday, and 14 additional deaths, as other key metrics that the state uses to guide its response to the pandemic continue to decline.
Friday’s data pushes the death toll to 3,015 and the total case count to 66,115.
Meanwhile, the state reported its positivity rate at 4.92%, which falls under the World Health Organization’s recommended 5% metric before officials should consider further easing virus-related restrictions. It’s the first time Maryland has reported a seven-day average positivity rate under 5%.
The 14 newly reported deaths do not include 127 others that may have been caused by the coronavirus but have not been confirmed by a laboratory test.
The progress prompted Gov. Larry Hogan to announce Friday that “limited” visitation can resume at assisted-living facilities across the state. Access to elder-care centers, which have accounted for nearly two thirds of coronavirus deaths in the state, has been restricted since March.
Visits by one or two people at a time will be allowed at facilities that are not reporting active outbreaks and that adhere to strict guidelines, including frequent testing, screening for symptoms, and use of masks and personal protective equipment.
Hospitalizations related to COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, also dipped to their lowest point since early April, with 487 beds currently occupied for treatment.
The state now has 200 major testing sites available, according to a statement from Hogan’s office Friday. Baltimore leads the state in its proportion of the population tested at 9.7%. Maryland has tested 8.4% of its population, as the state works toward a goal of testing 10% of the population in all 24 counties.
Prince George’s and Montgomery counties continue to lead all state jurisdictions in cases, with more than 32,000 infections combined. Baltimore County, Baltimore City and Anne Arundel County trail the Washington suburbs in cases, with nearly 20,000 infections altogether.
While older adults account for the majority of fatalities related to COVID-19, people between 30 and 39 make up the majority of cases out of all other age ranges, with over 12,000 known infections.
Meanwhile, the state’s data shows that Hispanic and Black residents have reported nearly equal numbers of cases, with 17,918 and 18,990, respectively. Combined the groups account for about 40% of Maryland’s population, U.S. Census data shows, but more than half of all known cases statewide.
Black people in Maryland have died disproportionately as a result of the virus. The state reports 1,229 known fatalities among the Black community as a result of COVID-19.
Data is not available for the racial or ethnic backgrounds of over 11,000 residents who’ve had the coronavirus, according to state data.
Even as the most watched data points trend downward, public health experts have advised Marylanders to remain vigilant in protecting themselves from the coronavirus until a vaccine or treatment regimen is approved, which could occur as early as next year.
In his statement, Hogan said rising case numbers in states across the country should guide Marylanders’ response.
“We simply cannot afford to stop being vigilant and cautious,” the Republican governor said. “Our long-term recovery can only be effective if all Marylanders continue exercising personal responsibility.”