MARYLAND — As thousands of Marylanders get tested for the coronavirus each day, positive signs of the state's recovery continue. Hospitalizations are declining and so is the positivity rate.
One age group, however, is seeing a higher positivity rate than others, according to officials.
"The positivity rate among Marylanders under the age of 35 is now 34% higher than the rate among those 35 and older," Gov. Larry Hogan said in a statement Friday. "We simply cannot afford to stop being vigilant and cautious."
The increase in positive test results among Maryland millennials is one that mirrors the trend nationwide, according to members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.
"The overwhelming majority now of people who are getting infected are young people — likely the people you see in the clips and in the paper, who are out in crowds enjoying themselves," Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said at a news conference Friday. "People are infecting other people, and ultimately you will infect someone who is vulnerable."
People younger than 40 represent "the age group most likely to have asymptomatic spread," according to Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.
"During the protests, we asked a lot of them to go forward to get testing, and we see those testing rates really improving in the under-40 age group," Birx said. "That is going to be important to continue to accelerate testing among the under 40 age group because that's the age group most likely to have asymptomatic spread and be spreading the virus unbeknownst to them."
State and local leaders will be delivering guidance pertinent to their jurisdictions, "alerting them that there has been spread among that age group" and "urging them to take countermeasures," Vice President Mike Pence said.
In Maryland, Hogan issued a statement Friday emphasizing the role of each person in stopping the spread of the virus.
"Our long-term recovery can only be effective if all Marylanders continue exercising personal responsibility," Hogan said. His emphasis on the individual's role in preventing the spread of the virus came the day after the Maryland Department of Health announced it was launching a mask-wearing campaign on social media.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the best way to protect oneself from the virus is to avoid being exposed. It recommends frequent handwashing, wearing a face covering, avoiding close contact and cleaning and disinfecting.
"It's really important that this group really commit themselves to this practice [of social distancing] to protect themselves from those who are at risk," CDC Director Robert Redfield said. "Millenials and younger people in this country" should be "vigilant" about social distancing.
Montgomery County has mandated face coverings in businesses and in public. Everyone over age 2 in the county must have a mask on unless they have breathing issues.
Another key to stopping the spread of the virus while reopening is testing, experts say.
More than 610,000 people in Maryland have been tested for the coronavirus, state health officials reported Friday.
See an interactive map of COVID-19 testing sites in Maryland.
There are 66,115 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Maryland, state health officials reported Friday. More than 14,000 are in Montgomery County, which has the highest death toll in the state; 691 people there have died from COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus. A total of 3,015 Marylanders lost their lives to COVID-19 since the pandemic began, state health officials reported Friday.
Maryland is among 29 states as of Friday with a positivity rate of 5 percent or lower, according to Johns Hopkins, which says health experts recommend that as a threshold for safe reopening.
The positivity rate in the state is 4.92 percent on a rolling, seven-day average, according to Maryland health officials.
More than 440,000 negative test results have been recorded in the state, officials said Friday.
In the past day, 338 people tested positive for the coronavirus in Maryland, where 7,100 negative test results were also reported.
Coronavirus in Maryland: A Snapshot
Maryland Coronavirus Cases By Jurisdiction
Maryland Coronavirus Cases By Age And Gender
Maryland Coronavirus Cases By Race And Ethnicity
Coronavirus In Group Living Facilities
Every Wednesday, the Maryland Department of Health reports the latest data from congregate living facilities. Here is the information as of Wednesday, June 24:
This is an increase of 294 confirmed cases of the virus in nursing homes, group homes and assisted living facilities since last week. State and local facilities saw a week-to-week increase of 130 cases.
Data shows in the past week there have been 50 additional deaths in nursing homes, group homes and assisted living facilities.