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Maryland Families Alter Their Christmas Holiday Plans Due To COVID-19 Pandemic

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- The coronavirus pandemic has led many Maryland families to alter their holiday plans this year.

Most of the people WJZ's Rachel Menitoff spoke to Friday said they're limiting their Christmas Day celebration to their immediate families and are relying on technology - Zoom and Facetime - to connect with loved ones from afar.

As of Friday, Maryland now has more than 2,400 new coronavirus cases. Hospitalizations are down by 39 people and the state-wide positivity rate remains about the same at 7.1%. The virus, though, has claimed the life of 31 more people this Christmas Day.

COVID-19 In Maryland: 31 Deaths, More Than 2.4K New Coronavirus Cases Reported On Christmas Day

For the Toney family, Christmas is a much smaller event this year without in-laws, cousins and brothers and sisters.

"It's just having a good outlook on things, we can't change the situation, so we just have to do the best we can."

Maryland is still seeing a regular increase in new coronavirus cases, even though hospitalizations are on the decline. Since the pandemic started, COVID-related deaths have surpassed 5,000.

Another key number to look at is the number of Marylanders who have now been vaccinated. Right now, it's almost 17,000.

Gov. Larry Hogan said each week the state is prepared to roll out more and more doses.

Healthcare workers, residents in senior care facilities and first responders are the first to get the covid-19 vaccine. People with high-risk health issues will be next.

"We're starting with the most vulnerable first," said Gov. Larry Hogan. "They've already been distributed to every single hospital in the state, they're getting out to every single nursing home in the state starting today."

"Very excited to be the first one actually," said a health care worker said Thursday.

In Anne Arundel County, the first 100 doses of the Moderna vaccine were given to its coronavirus testing staff just in time for Christmas eve with more to come.

"It's really appropriate that these men and women who are out there, putting swabs in people's noses while they sit in their car, not knowing whether they are positive or negative, with a significant chance that they are positive, are the first ones to get vaccinated," said Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman.

State health officials have warned that family gatherings are among the easiest ways to transmit the virus.

That's why the Ceponis family is opting for a socially-distant holiday.

"We've done a lot of phone calls and Zoom calls to try to keep in touch but it's not like having someone to give a hug to," said Dave Ceponis, Of Patterson Park.

"We miss people, but we're in it for the long haul and we can all get together when this is over," added Peggy Ceponis, of Patterson Park.

If you'd like to learn more about the two vaccines available and keep up to date on the vaccine distribution here in Maryland, here's a link to the state's health department website where you can that.

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department's website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ's coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

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