County, state positivity rates falling as U.S. lifts pause on J&J vaccine

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Jillian Atelsek, The Frederick News-Post, Md.
·2 min read
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Apr. 24—Frederick County's seven-day coronavirus positivity rate fell for the sixth straight day Saturday, as officials prepared to reinstate the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan touted the state's decreasing cases.

According to data from the Centre for Mathematical Modeling of Infectious Diseases, Maryland saw a 43 percent drop in new virus cases over the past week — the biggest decrease nationwide. Hogan also highlighted the center's finding that Maryland has the country's lowest transmission rate, and is the only state given the status of "decreasing" for its rate of spread.

Plus, Hogan tweeted, the state saw a daily positivity rate under 3 percent for the first time since March 13, and a seven-day positivity rate under 5 percent for the first time since March 27.

Frederick County's seven-day rate was 4.6 percent Saturday, slightly lower than the state's 4.9 percent. Still, the county added 38 new cases and three new deaths overnight.

Since the pandemic began, 19,282 county residents have contracted the virus, according to the Frederick County Health Department, and 310 have died.

Meanwhile, federal health agencies announced Friday night that it was safe to resume use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the only one-dose shot authorized in the United States.

The announcement came 10 days after the Food and Drug Administration ordered states to pause distribution of the vaccine following six cases of a rare but serious blood-clotting disorder in women under 50 who had received it.

A Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) panel reported Friday that it had identified a total of 15 cases of the clotting disorder — including three deaths — among the nearly 8 million Americans who have received a J&J shot. The FDA said a warning will be added to its label about the risk to young women.

In a statement Saturday, the Maryland Department of Health gave providers across the state permission to resume distributing their supply of J&J shots.

"The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is one of our most important tools in the ongoing fight to prevent hospitalizations and deaths associated with COVID-19," Dr. Jinlene Chan, the department's deputy secretary for public health services, said in the release. "By resuming use of this safe and effective vaccine in Maryland, we will continue to bolster our ability to stay ahead of new cases and emerging variants."

Follow Jillian Atelsek on Twitter: @jillian_atelsek