Some fully vaccinated Marylanders are continuing to contract COVID-19, but only a small percentage have died or been hospitalized, according state data.
Only 0.12% of those fully vaccinated — about 3,836 people in the state — later tested positive for the virus, the Maryland Department of Health reported.
The 53 fully vaccinated people who died accounted for 3.7% of the deaths confirmed to have been caused by the virus in the state since January, according to the state. The 454 fully vaccinated patients who have been hospitalized represent 3.8% of COVID-19 hospitalizations since then, the state said.
All but 3.2% of all confirmed COVID-19 cases in Maryland have been among the unvaccinated since vaccines began arriving in January 2021, the state reported, adding the data to the bottom of its online coronavirus dashboard Thursday evening.
The state released the information publicly more than six months after identifying the first of what’s known as a “breakthrough case” in Maryland, on Jan. 26. The data reflects cases tested between Jan. 26 and Aug. 1, the state said.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says breakthrough cases “are expected.”
“COVID-19 vaccines are effective and are a critical tool to bring the pandemic under control,” the agency’s website says. “However, no vaccines are 100% effective at preventing illness in vaccinated people. There will be a small percentage of fully vaccinated people who still get sick, are hospitalized, or die from COVID-19.”
States report breakthrough cases to the CDC, which is monitoring those cases that cause hospitalizations or deaths “for clustering by patient demographics, geographic location, time since vaccination, vaccine type, and SARS-CoV-2 lineage,” the CDC’s website says.
Nearly six in 10 Marylanders have been fully vaccinated as of Friday. But the rate of vaccinations has plateaued: It increased from 40% to 50% in 23 days, and has taken 66 days and counting to reach 60%.
The state reported 7,242 first doses of the two-dose Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, 4,471 second doses, and 442 single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines administered in the past day.
Experts are continuing to recommend vaccines as the best line of defense against serious illness, and they say unvaccinated people are driving the recent increase in cases and hospitalizations.
Nearly 90% of Marylanders ages 65 and older, the age group most at risk for serious or fatal cases, has received at least one dose of vaccine, the state reports.
But racial and geographic disparities remain. More than twice as many white people as Black people in the state are fully vaccinated. Just 37.7% of people in small, rural Somerset County are fully vaccinated, compared with 68.3% in wealthier, more populated Howard County, which leads the state.
The state on Friday reported 890 new confirmed cases, its highest daily total in the past three months.
Eight more people were hospitalized Friday than the day before, bringing the total number of beds currently occupied by COVID-19 patients to 345. Of those patients, 84 required intensive care.
While that number is down significantly from its January and April peaks, it has tripled since early July and represents the most patients hospitalized since June 3.
The state reported four more deaths from COVID-19 Friday, bringing the total pandemic death toll to 9,626. Amid the vaccine rollout, the death rate has dropped significantly. The state hasn’t reported more than 10 deaths in a day since May 28.
Maryland’s seven-day positivity rate, the percentage of tests that come back positive for COVID-19 over the past week, reached 3.79% Friday, the highest since early May. The rate is also down from its peak but has been rising since early July.
Testing has increased, too, reflecting the ongoing spread of the virus. Maryland reported 25,725 COVID-19 tests administered Thursday, the most the state has reported since May 29.
Mask up again, Baltimore
Beginning 9 a.m. Monday, Baltimore will follow other areas around the country in reinstating an indoor mask requirement amid a rise in cases and hospitalizations, Mayor Brandon Scott, a Democrat, announced Thursday.
Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, said local leaders may require masks, but he is not considering reinstating a statewide mandate. Some state employees will be required to get vaccinated, he announced.
Baltimore Sun data journalist Steve Earley contributed to this article.