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Maryland reports 369 new COVID cases, 4 deaths as Gov. Hogan defends decision to lift statewide mask mandate

Maryland health officials reported yet another day of declining coronavirus infection rates and hospitalizations due to the disease as Gov. Larry Hogan, in a television appearance Sunday morning, defended his decision to lift the statewide mask mandate.

Here’s how Sunday’s coronavirus metrics break down, according to the Maryland Department of Health:

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Cases

Maryland health officials reported 369 new cases of the coronavirus, raising the total number of cases counted in the state since March 2020 to 456,004.

The state health department has not reported more than 1,000 daily cases since April 28, and Maryland has averaged 479 cases per day this month.

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Deaths

Health officials reported four more people have died from COVID-19, raising the total number of fatalities attributable to the disease since March 2020 to 8,737.

Hospitalizations

The state health department reported that 612 Marylanders are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, a decrease of 41 people compared with Saturday’s total.

The state has reported a consistent decline in hospitalizations due to the disease over roughly the past month. Since April 20, health officials have reported a decrease of 670 people hospitalized with the disease.

Testing positivity

The statewide seven-day average positivity rate is now at 2.52%, according to the state health department, a decrease of 0.08 percentage points compared with Saturday.

State health officials reported the daily positivity rate, which counts the number of tests that returned positive for the coronavirus in the past 24 hours, was 1.65% for tests completed Saturday. It’s the lowest daily rate health officials have reported since the beginning of the pandemic, which Hogan touted on Twitter on Sunday morning.

Hogan also defended his decision to lift the requirement that face masks be worn for most public settings in Maryland during an appearance on CNN on Sunday morning.

The governor lifted the mask mandate for most public settings, with the noted exceptions of schools and health care facilities and while aboard public transportation. Meanwhile, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has only said it’s safe for fully vaccinated people to forgo masks both indoors and out.

On CNN’s “State of the Union,” Hogan pointed to difficulties in identifying fully vaccinated residents.

“The CDC came out with guidance and we’re following that guidance, but the governors of states have to actually operationalize it. It’s just very hard. There’s no way to differentiate between vaccinated and unvaccinated people from a legal point of view,” Hogan said.

He added that businesses can continue to operate with mask requirements in place at their own discretion.

“We’re giving the businesses the flexibility to do what they think is right,” Hogan said. “They have the right to take actions, just like telling people: ‘No shirt, no shoes, no service.’ ”

Vaccinations

State health officials reported 44,243 doses of coronavirus vaccinations were administered in the past 24 hours.

Of those, 21,054 were the first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, which require a two-dose regimen, and an additional 21,627 were the second doses of those vaccines. Additionally, 1,562 doses were of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

As of Sunday, about 66.2% of Maryland’s adult population has received at least a single dose of a vaccine, according to the CDC.

About 2.55 million Marylanders are fully vaccinated, or roughly 42.27% of the state’s population, according to state health officials.

Vaccines by age:

About 83.14% of Marylanders 65 or older have received at least one dose of a vaccine, according to state health officials.

In addition, 69.49% of people 50 to 64 years old, 53.59% of people 18 to 49 years old and 19.33% of children 12 to 17 years old have received at least their first shot of a vaccine as of Sunday, according to the state.

Vaccines by race:

About 2.63 times more white people have been fully vaccinated in Maryland than Black people, according to available state health department data. There are about 1.88 times as many white residents in Maryland compared with Black residents, as the demographics represent about 58.5% and 31% of the state’s population, respectively, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

While there is still a racial disparity, it has been decreasing over time as more vaccines get into the arms of Maryland residents. About two months ago, 3.8 times as many white residents had been fully vaccinated compared with Black residents.

The states does not have racial data on 322,233 administered vaccines, not counting doses administered by federal entities.

Additionally, about 6.59% of fully vaccinated residents where state data on ethnicity was available identify as Latino, a demographic that makes up about 11% of state residents.

The state does not have data on ethnicity (Latino versus non-Latino) for 329,816 administered vaccines, not counting federal entities.

Vaccines by county:

Howard (49.15%), Talbot (48.17%) and Montgomery (46.32%) counties continue to lead the state in their rates of fully vaccinated residents and are the only three jurisdictions to have more than 45% of residents fully inoculated against the coronavirus as of Sunday.

The three counties are all majority white but have significant differences in populations and demographics. Montgomery County is the most-populated jurisdiction in the state, with more than 1 million residents and 40% of its population are non-white residents. Howard County has 325,000 residents, with about 44% of residents who are non-white. Talbot County has about 37,000 residents and is about 83.3% white, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

On the other end of the scale, rural Somerset (26.28%) and Cecil (28.49%) counties are still lagging behind the rest of the state when it comes to fully vaccinated residents. Somerset, the southernmost locality on the Eastern Shore, has about 26,000 residents, while Cecil, the northernmost, has about 103,000. Cecil is 88% white; Somerset is about 54% white and 41% Black.

The state also reported that about 33.3% of Baltimore city residents, as well as roughly 40.99% of Baltimore County residents, have been fully vaccinated as of Sunday.

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