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Maryland reports 244 new COVID cases, 17 deaths as positivity rate and hospitalizations continue to decline

Maryland’s coronavirus testing positivity rate continued its decline Sunday as state health officials reported fewer than 250 new COVID-19 cases for the third time in the past seven days.

Here’s a look at where other key COVID-19 indicators were Sunday:

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Cases

Maryland health officials reported 244 new cases of the coronavirus Sunday, bringing the total number of infections up to 458,292 cases since March 2020.

Since May 17, the state has reported roughly 327 new COVID-19 cases per day, according to the Maryland Health Department.

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Deaths

Seventeen more people were reported dead from COVID-19, bringing the state’s fatality count up to 8,816 since March 2020.

Since May 17, the state has reported that 76 people have died due to the disease, or a little under 11 per day.

Hospitalizations

Currently, 454 people in Maryland are hospitalized due to complications from COVID-19, according to the Maryland Department of Health, 36 fewer than the day before.

The state has seen a sharp decline in the number of people hospitalized with the disease as its vaccination campaign continues to inoculate thousands of Marylanders each day.

Since May 1, the state has reported a decrease of 555 patients hospitalized due to the disease. The majority of them, 388, were being treated in acute care units, according to the state health department.

Positivity rate

The statewide seven-day average positivity rate is now at 2.03% following the completion of 20,316 coronavirus tests Saturday. It’s the lowest the rate has been since the beginning of the pandemic, breaking the low mark set after the state completed roughly 37,000 tests Friday and reported a seven-day average of 2.04%.

The percentage, which measures the number of tests that have returned positive for COVID-19 over a seven-day period, has declined through much of May, according to state health officials. It’s less than half what it was a month ago and hasn’t been at 5% or above since late April.

Vaccinations

State health officials reported that 37,014 more doses of the three available coronavirus vaccines were administered to Maryland residents over the past 24 hours.

Of those, 15,764 were the first dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, which require a two-dose regimen. An additional 19,979 doses were the second doses of those two vaccines, and 1,271 were the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

To date, about 2.76 million Marylanders have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, or about 45.72% of the state’s population of a little more than 6 million residents.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced last week that people who’ve been fully vaccinated no longer have to be tested for the coronavirus, even if they’ve been exposed to someone who has it.

“At this point we really should be asking ourselves whether the benefits of testing outweigh the costs — which are lots of disruptions, lots of confusion and very little clinical or public health benefit,” said Dr. A. David Paltiel of Yale’s School of Public Health, who championed widespread testing at colleges last year.

While vaccinated people can still catch the virus, they face little risk of serious illness from it. And positive test results can lead to what many experts now say are unnecessary worry and interruptions at work, home and school, such as quarantines and shutdowns.

About 5.89 million doses of vaccine have been administered since Dec. 14.

Federal entities in Maryland have dished out 198,021 vaccine doses, according to the health department.

Vaccines by age:

The state health department reported that about 84.05% of Marylanders 65 or older have received at least their first dose of a vaccine as of Sunday.

Additionally, 71.38% of residents 50 to 64 years old, 56% of those 18 to 49 and 31.25% of children 12 to 17 have also received at least their first dose of a vaccine, health officials reported Sunday.

Vaccines by race:

About 2.57 times more white people than Black people have been fully vaccinated in Maryland, 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 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 state does not have racial data for 345,540 administered doses of the vaccines, not counting those administered by federal entities.

Additionally, about 7.12% of fully vaccinated residents identify as Latino, while about 10.6% of the state’s overall population is Latino, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

This disparity has also been decreasing; a week ago, the share of fully vaccinated people who identify as Latino was at 6.59%.

The state does not have data on ethnicity (Latino versus non-Latino) for 352,001 administered vaccine doses, not counting federal entities.

Vaccines by county:

As of Sunday, three counties have now fully vaccinated more than half of their residents.

According to the state health department, Howard County (53.41%), Talbot County (51.1%) and Montgomery County (50.28%) have all passed the mark.

The three counties differ greatly in location, diversity and size. Howard County, in the Baltimore metro area, has about 326,000 residents and more than 44% of its population is non-white. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that 5% of residents live in poverty, below the statewide average of 9%.

Montgomery County, a county in the Washington, D.C., metro region, is the state’s most populated jurisdiction with more than 1 million residents. Additionally, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that about 40% of residents are non-white and that 7.3% of its population lives in poverty.

Talbot County, a county on the Eastern Shore where 83.3% of its roughly 37,000 residents are white, has about 8.7% of its population living in poverty, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Meanwhile, there are still vaccination rate disparities as the state continues to ramp up its efforts to get shots into the arms of more Marylanders, particularly in more rural areas with higher rates of impoverished residents.

Somerset County, an Eastern Shore jurisdiction where 23.6% of its roughly 26,000 residents live in poverty and 41.5% of its population is Black, continues to have the lowest rate of vaccinated residents. The state reported that 28.61% of county residents have been fully inoculated as of Sunday, the only jurisdiction below 30%.

Cecil County, a northeastern jurisdiction of roughly 103,000 residents where 10.3% of people live in poverty, has the second-lowest rate at 30.68% as of Sunday. About 88.3% of that county’s residents are white, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

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Additionally, three counties in Western Maryland with above-average poverty rates are all also below the statewide average for fully vaccinated residents.

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Garrett County (33.3%), Allegany County (33.56%) and Washington County (33.28%) have below-average full vaccination rates, according to the state health department. The three counties also have higher rates of impoverished residents than the statewide average, at 12.8%, 16% and 12.3% of residents, respectively, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The state reported that 35.63% of Baltimore City residents have been fully vaccinated, as well as 43.98% of Baltimore County residents.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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