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Howard is the first county in Maryland with 50% of its residents fully vaccinated against COVID

Howard County on Wednesday became the first jurisdiction in Maryland to have 50% of its residents fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to the Maryland Department of Health.

As of Wednesday afternoon, 50.7% of all Howard County residents — adults and children — have received either both doses of the two-shot Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines or the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine. About 165,000 of Howard’s 325,500 residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

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No other county in the state is above 50% fully vaccinated, and no jurisdiction in Central Maryland is above 43%.

A month ago, Howard became the second county in Maryland to have half its residents at least partially vaccinated, with Talbot County on the Eastern Shore — with a population of 37,000 — being the first. Now, Talbot is second in the state with a 49.5% fully vaccination rate.

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Also as of Wednesday, about 63% of Howard residents are at least partially vaccinated against the virus. That figure means that, within four weeks, close to two-thirds of Howard countians should be fully vaccinated, since the approximately 39,000 people who have only received one dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines are in a three- to four-week waiting period for their second dose.

Behind Howard among Baltimore area jurisdictions is Carroll County with 42.5% of its residents fully vaccinated. Baltimore County is third in the region with 42.1%, while 40.9% of Harford countians and 39.8% of Anne Arundel residents are fully vaccinated. Baltimore City and Prince George’s County have among the state’s lowest full vaccination rates at around 34%. Meanwhile, neighboring Montgomery County, Maryland’s most populated jurisdiction, has the third highest percentage at 47.9%.

About 54% of Maryland’s approximately 6 million residents have been partially vaccinated as of Wednesday, while nearly 44% are fully vaccinated. Meanwhile, two-thirds of the state’s adult population has received at least one shot.

A crucial figure for Howard is the percentage at which its oldest residents have been vaccinated. According to Howard County health data, more than 95% of people 65 and older in the county are at least partially vaccinated.

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The county’s most vulnerable population being vaccinated has caused Howard’s death toll from the virus to sharply decline. In the past four months, 37 people in Howard have died from COVID-19, while 202 people died from the virus in the previous 10 months. In total, county data shows 239 Howard residents have died from the virus that has killed 8,945 statewide and about 587,000 in the U.S.

For the county’s youngest eligible population, one-third of people in the 12-18 age group have received at least one dose, now that children 12 and older can receive the Pfizer vaccine. Most of the county’s vaccine clinics give the Moderna vaccine, but every week a clinic at Howard Community College has the Pfizer vaccine.

A month ago, despite Howard having a high vaccination rate, the county’s coronavirus numbers plateaued. That is not the case now, though, as Howard’s COVID-19 metrics have plummeted to extremely low levels.

As of Wednesday, Howard’s weekly positivity rate, which measures the percent at which tests return positive over a seven-day period, is 1.1%, according to the Maryland Department of Health. The rate is the lowest among all Maryland jurisdictions and is much lower than the 5% rate it was a month ago and the 8% rate it was at the peak in January.

Meanwhile, Howard’s seven-day rolling new-case rate — which measures the average number of new cases on a single day over a weeklong period — is 3.07 per 100,000 residents. The case rate is significantly better than a month ago when it was 17.33 and is 94% lower than the dangerously high peak of 49 per 100,000 back in mid-January.

The 3.07 per 100,000 figure means that in the past seven days only 71 people in Howard County have tested positive for COVID-19. At the peak in January, 1,113 people tested positive in a week span; from late December to mid-January, more than 71 people tested positive every day for 22 straight days.

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