Maryland reports COVID positivity rate below 1% for the second straight day, as hospitalizations drop

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Maryland reported a seven-day COVID-19 testing positivity rate below 1% for the second straight day Thursday and saw 121 new cases across the state as hospitalizations dropped again.

The rate of positive tests over the past week, flat from Wednesday, is the lowest it has been all pandemic, according to Maryland Department of Health data. The state reached the milestone of fully vaccinating half of all residents earlier this week.

Here’s where the state’s coronavirus indicators stood Thursday:

Cases

The 121 new COVID-19 cases reported Thursday brought the state’s pandemic total to 460,984.

The state reported fewer than 100 new cases twice in the past week, and the statewide case rate has fallen to fewer than 2 per 100,000 people.

Maryland was reporting 1,000 or more new cases daily as recently as April, and more than 3,000 per day at the peak of the pandemic in December and January.

Deaths

Eight more people were reported dead Thursday from COVID-19. Maryland has lost a total of 9,450 people to the pandemic.

The state has averaged reporting 6 deaths per day over the past two weeks. But it hasn’t reported more than 10 new coronavirus deaths in a day since May 28.

Hospitalizations

The number of people hospitalized in Maryland with coronavirus fell by 16 to 227 Thursday. Of those patients, 63 required intensive care, three fewer than Wednesday.

Hospitalizations have fallen off dramatically since late April, and are at their lowest level since late March 2020, just after the pandemic began.

Positivity rate

The state matched Wednesday’s record-low seven-day positivity rate of 0.95% Thursday. Before last month, the record low had been about 2.5%.

It could indicate that, even with half the population fully vaccinated, enough surveillance testing is still occurring. If the state were only testing sick people, or the infection rate was greater, the positivity rate would be far higher. The state reported 18,263 COVID-19 tests conducted in the past 24 hours.

At one point in January the positivity rate, which measures the share of coronavirus tests returned positive in the past week, climbed near 9.5%.

Vaccinations

Another 44,942 new doses of the vaccines were administered. That includes 15,591 first doses of the two-dose Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna regimes, 28,054 second doses and 1,297 doses of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Daily vaccination totals have generally leveled off since mid-April, as more people become inoculated, and the state is making plans to shutter its mass vaccination sites in favor of smaller venues and clinics aimed at reaching the vulnerable or the undecided.

Vaccinations by age

More than 85.5% of Marylanders ages 65 and older, who are most at risk for severe cases of COVID-19, have received at least one dose of the vaccine, along with 74.2% of those ages 50-64, the state reported.

Nearly 60% of those ages 18-49 have gotten at least one vaccine dose. About 42.1% of minors between the ages of 12 and 17 have gotten at least one dose of the Pfizer vaccine, the only one authorized for that age group.

Vaccinations by race

Nearly 2.5 times more white people are fully vaccinated than Black people in the state, according to available racial data from the state health department.

There are about 1.88 times as many white residents in Maryland as Black residents, as the demographics represent about 58.5% and 31% of the state’s population, respectively, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

About 7.6% of fully vaccinated people whose ethnicity was known identified as Latino, according to the state. The demographic represents about 10.6% of Maryland’s population, and while the vaccination rate is disproportionately low, it has risen from about 5.8% of people about a month ago.

Vaccinations by county

Howard County, one of the state’s richest, became the first Maryland county Thursday with more than 60% of its population fully vaccinated. Montgomery (56.5%), Talbot (54.1%) and Frederick (51.4%) counties are the others with half of their residents fully vaccinated.

Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll and Harford counties are among eight other jurisdictions where half of all residents have received at least one dose. Nearly 40% of people in Baltimore City are fully inoculated.

Somerset County, which has the highest rate of people living in poverty in Maryland, continues to report the lowest vaccination rate. Fewer than one in three people in Somerset (32.1%) are fully vaccinated, trailing Cecil (34.5%), Garrett (35.7%) and Allegany (36.4%) counties.

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