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COVID-19 In Maryland: Roughly 1,500 Hospitalized, Positivity Rate Dips Below 8%

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Maryland's COVID-19 hospitalizations have fallen to a little more than 1,500 and the statewide positivity rate has dipped below 8%, according to data released Wednesday by the Maryland Department of Health.

Those improving metrics come during in the final stretch of a state of emergency issued in response to last month's surge in infections and hospitalizations. But while the numbers show promise, health care leaders say hospitals continue to struggle.

Maryland added 1,349 more COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of confirmed cases statewide to 958,129 since the pandemic began.

With hospitalizations falling by 159, the number of COVID-19 patients in Maryland hospitals stands at 1,519. The statewide positivity rate has fallen to 7,68%, a 0.98% decrease since Tuesday.

The statewide death toll rose by 40 over the past 24 hours, meaning the tally now stands at 13,316 since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Maryland is 29 days into a 30-day state of emergency issued by Gov. Larry Hogan to combat elevated hospitalizations and infections that forced many hospitals across the state to pivot to crisis standards of care.

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

Despite these efforts, the Maryland Hospital Association on Tuesday said that hospitals continue to struggle with staffing issues. That includes 3,900 nursing vacancies, a 50% increase since late August.

Bob Atlas, the organization's president and chief executive officer, said the MHA is appreciative of Gov. Hogan's efforts to address staffing shortages but he noted that more needs to be done.

"Unfortunately, the Governor's legislation and other proposed bills to address hospitals' workforce challenges will not become law before the 30-day public health emergency runs out this Friday," Atlas said.

While Maryland's workforce shortages predated the pandemic, Atlas said, he said the difference with the health care industry is the life-saving work involved.

"Our hospitals are unique in that they must be ready to perform life-saving services 24/7/365 no matter what," he said. "We need legislative solutions, partnerships, and innovation to ensure we have the caregivers to meet all our communities' needs."

Of those currently hospitalized with COVID-19 in Maryland, 1,207 are adults in acute care and 297 are adults in intensive care. Eight children are in acute care and seven more are in the ICU, state data show.

There are 4,396,553 Marylanders fully vaccinated and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 94.7% of the state's adults have gotten at least one dose. When you factor in children age 5 and older, 89.1% of the population has gotten at least one dose of the vaccine.

The state has administered 11,071,056 million doses of the vaccine.

Of those, 4,638,813 are first doses, 3,457 in the last 24 hours. Another 4,064,210 are second doses, 3,745 in the past day. A total of 332,343 Marylanders have gotten the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, 118 in the past day.

The state has administered 2,035,690 boosters, 7,917 in the past 24 hours.

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