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COVID-19 In Maryland: 751 Hospitalized, Positivity Rate Dips To 3.77%

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Fewer than 800 Marylanders are hospitalized with COVID-19, and the positivity rate has dropped below 4% for the first time in three months, according to data released Monday by the Maryland Department of Health.

The positivity rate dipped to 3.77%, a 0.55% decrease over the past 24 hours and an 87% decrease since it peaked at nearly 30% last month. This marks the first time the positivity rate has been below 4% since Nov. 23 when it was 3.9%.

With hospitalizations falling by 72, the number of COVID-19 patients in Maryland hospitals stands at 751, well below last month's peak of nearly 3,500.

Maryland added 425 more COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of confirmed cases statewide to 970,732 since the pandemic began.

The statewide death toll now stands at 13,666 after increasing by eight.

Citing improving metrics, Gov. Larry Hogan on Monday announced that beginning on Feb. 22, masks will no longer be required inside state buildings and facilities.

"Given the dramatic declines in our health metrics, we are now able to take another step toward normalcy in state operations," Hogan said. "In addition, we continue to offer paid leave for state employees to get their booster shots, which provide critical protection against the virus and its variants."

Additionally, the governor has called for the Maryland State Board of Education to rescind its policy requiring masks in schools.

Under the existing policy, schools can lift their mask mandates if they meet certain "off-ramp" requirements—if 80% of the county's population is vaccinated, if 80% of the school's students and staff are vaccinated or if the county's transmission rate is "low" or "moderate" for 14 consecutive days.

The state Board of Education said it plans to evaluate the need for face masks in schools when it convenes next week.

Maryland recently emerged from a 30-day state of emergency issued by Hogan in response to elevated hospitalizations and infections that pushed many hospitals to capacity levels. Yet healthcare leaders say hospitals still face nursing shortages.

Over the past few weeks, Hogan also issued executive orders aimed at shoring up workforces in nursing homes, hospitals and emergency medical services.

Of those currently hospitalized with COVID-19 in Maryland, 583 are adults in acute care and 157 are adults in intensive care. Ten children are in acute care and one is in the ICU.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 95% of Maryland's adult population has gotten at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 89.7% of Marylanders ages 5 and up have gotten a shot.

There are 4,437,515 Marylanders fully vaccinated and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The state has administered 11,216,488 doses of the vaccine.

Of those, 4,667,782 are first doses, 1,210 in the last 24 hours. Another 4,104,026 are second doses, 1,551 in the past day. A total of 333,489 Marylanders have gotten the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, 29 in the past day.

The state has administered 2,111,191 boosters, 3,278 in the past 24 hours.

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