As the Fourth of July holiday weekend begins, Maryland officials confirmed 538 new cases of the coronavirus Friday, the second straight day the figure has topped 500 after being under that total for two weeks.
With the additions, the state has confirmed 68,961 cases.
Thirteen more deaths due to complications from the illness also were reported, raising the state total to 3,099. In addition, 124 people have probably died due to the disease or complications of it, but their diagnosis has not been confirmed by a laboratory.
Friday was the eighth straight day that Maryland reported fewer than 20 daily deaths.
The coronavirus updates came as the nation headed into a holiday weekend typically marked by large gatherings. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has cautioned residents to remain vigilant, saying young people in particular can take safety guidance too lightly.
Of Maryland’s nearly 69,000 cases, 15,967 — nearly one in four — are people under 30, according to state data. While a majority of cases are in people between 30 and 59, the most deaths are in the state’s oldest population. But public officials have warned that young people can transmit the virus even if they are asymptomatic.
In a morning tweet, Hogan urged Marylanders to “please continue to exercise personal responsibility” through physical distancing, hand-washing, face coverings and avoiding crowds.
Cases have been skyrocketing in states including Florida, Texas, California and others that lifted restrictions, leading more people to gather.
Prior to Thursday, Maryland had not reported more than 500 new cases since June 17. But the state has been doing increasing testing — it has reported 691,495 tests overall. With testing increasingly available, the state’s health department on Wednesday instructed health care providers to order a COVID-19 test “for any individual who believes it necessary, regardless of symptoms.”
While the number of new cases rose slightly, coronavirus-related hospitalizations fell again — from 441 Thursday to 422 Friday — with 5,023 people released from isolation since the pandemic hit the state in mid-March, the state reported. The declines followed three consecutive days of slightly increasing hospitalizations.
The state’s number of coronavirus patients currently requiring intensive care was 143. It was the second day in a row that the figure was below 150 after three months of being above it.
The state’s positivity rate among those tested remained just below 5%, a threshold set by the World Health Organization showing that most cases are being identified. The rate reported Friday was 4.92 %.
As of Friday morning, Maryland was one of 23 states with a seven-day rolling positivity rate beneath 5%, according to Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus resource center.
Prince George’s and Montgomery counties continue to lead the state in total coronavirus cases, with 18,861 and 15,021, respectively, followed by Baltimore County with 8,183 cases and Baltimore City with 7,789.
Garrett County’s 11 cases is the state’s lowest.
Worcester County — which includes Ocean City — has reported just 291 cases. With Hogan having lifted many restrictions, public health officials are closely watching the resort town, especially after outbreaks in the nearby Delaware beach towns of Rehoboth and Dewey prompted officials there to close bars.
Hogan’s office said recently that the state has partnered with Worcester County to open a free testing site in Ocean City for the summer.