It’s a familiar phrase at this point: Coronavirus cases are on the rise again.
But Maryland’s latest surge differs from previous waves. For one, vaccines are now widely available to the public, and more than 60% of Marylanders are fully vaccinated. That number doesn’t include children under 12, however, who can’t get vaccinated yet. And with school starting up again soon, kids could be heavily affected by the virus.
Here’s a look at how this wave compares with surges in coronavirus cases last year.
The delta variant is contributing to a surge nearing the initial spring 2020 wave
While this summer’s COVID numbers haven’t neared the heights of fall 2020 wave, they’ve surpassed last summer’s spike in cases and are nearing the levels of the initial spring 2020 surge. Cases are also increasing more rapidly during this wave compared with the ones in summer 2020 and fall 2020 — between July 8 and Aug. 24, the 14-day average of new cases rose 1,437%.
The seven-day positivity rate hit 5.04% on Aug. 19, the first time the positivity rate has been over 5% since April 22. Marylanders are also getting tested in higher numbers these days amid the surge of the more contagious delta variant.
Younger residents make up an increasing number of cases
Marylanders under 40 make up the majority of new cases now, compared with 37.1% of cases during the initial spring 2020 surge. With vaccines still unavailable to children under 12, the share of residents 19 and under testing positive has jumped from 6.1% to 24%.
While cases and hospitalizations are rising, deaths are down
A significant difference between the recent surge in cases compared with previous ones is that deaths are not rising at a similar rate. The state has reported 270 deaths since June 1, compared with 1,163 between June 2020 and August 2020.
Unvaccinated people make up the majority of new cases and deaths
State health officials noted in June that all residents who died of COVID-19 that month were not vaccinated. From Jan. 26 — when the first post-vaccination infection in Maryland was reported — through Aug. 15, only 5% of all coronavirus cases in Maryland were among vaccinated people. During this time period, 97.5% of COVID-19 related deaths were unvaccinated people.
Here’s where cases are surging
Counties on the Eastern Shore and in Western Maryland are seeing the largest increase in cases per 1,000 residents, with Dorchester County the highest.