This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), depicts the exterior structure of the coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19. Image courtesy of CDC.

The five largest jurisdictions in Maryland have tested less than 10 percent of their populations, state data show.

Baltimore City leads the way with a total of 8.6 percent of residents tested for COVID-19.  Meanwhile, 8.2 percent of Prince George’s County, 8 percent of Baltimore County, 7.4 percent of Montgomery County and 6 percent of Anne Arundel County residents have been tested.

Somerset County has tested 18.2 percent of its population, the greatest percentage of any of Maryland’s 24 jurisdictions. Wicomico and Dorchester counties are the only other jurisdictions that have tested more than 10 percent of the populations, having both tested 10.2 percent.

Queen Anne’s County has tested 4.4 percent of its population, the lowest percentage in the state.

The Maryland Department Health on Friday introduced a chart on their data dashboard showing each jurisdiction’s testing volume, with four quartiles ranking the percentages of populations that have been tested.

On Thursday, health department officials urged county leaders to increase testing efforts in their jurisdictions to test 10 percent of their populations.

“We urge you to make every effort and come up with innovative ways to provide your residents and businesses with open and convenient access to testing,” Maryland Secretary of Health Robert Neall and Deputy Secretary Fran Phillips wrote in a letter to local executives.

The state health officials said they have provided specimen collection kits to local health departments, broadened the testing criteria to allow asymptomatic individuals who may have been exposed to COVID-19 to be tested, authorized pharmacies to administer tests, opened more testing sites with a total of more than 150 locations across the state and partnered with the University of Maryland to use their lab to process more tests.

The push for more COVID-19 testing comes as the state prepares to lift more coronavirus-related restrictions this afternoon.

Starting at 5 p.m. today, gyms, indoor fitness studios, casinos, malls, arcades, outdoor amusements, rides and miniature golf courses will be allowed to reopen, under an order that Gov. Larry Hogan announced last week.

Outdoor pools will be allowed to increase their capacity to 50 percent then as well.

At least 63,548 Marylanders have tested positive for COVID-19, while 390,121 have tested negative as of Friday morning, according to the Maryland Department of Health’s COVID-19 Case Map Dashboard.

The 14-day average number of newly reported cases has not increased for 14 consecutive days since reaching 882 on June 5 and has followed a downward trend for about three weeks, according to the Baltimore Sun’s data tracker.

Maryland has conducted at least 544,072 tests to date, with 8,628 test results reported in the past 24 hours.

Over the past seven days, an average of 5.41 percent of the state’s COVID-19 tests have come back positive. Public health experts recommend a positive test rate of 10 percent or lower.

Maryland’s average rate of positive tests has decreased for eight consecutive days since reaching 7.25 percent on June 10, and the metric has following a downward trend since peaking at 26.92 on April 17.

Of the state’s total number of confirmed cases, 10,447 people who tested positive for COVID-19 were hospitalized at some point, including 648 who are currently hospitalized.

Maryland’s coronavirus-related hospitalizations have decreased for 23 consecutive days since reaching 1,338 on May 27, and the metric has trended downward for more than a month.

Of those currently hospitalized, 387 are in acute care and 261 are in intensive care.

The number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care units has decreased for 17 consecutive days since reaching 481 on June 2, and the metric has been following a downward trend for about a month.

A total of 2,901 Marylanders have died from COVID-19, with 15 additional deaths since Thursday. There are also 129 deaths suspected to be related to coronavirus.

As of 10 a.m. Friday, there have been 17,709 confirmed cases in Prince George’s County; 13,928 in Montgomery County; 7,403 in Baltimore County; 6,938 in Baltimore City; 4,862 in Anne Arundel County; 2,382 in Howard County; 2,361 in Frederick County; 1,294 in Charles County; 1,041 in Harford County; 1,036 in Wicomico County; 1,028 in Carroll County; 601 in Washington County; 599 in St. Mary’s County; 459 in Cecil County; 389 in Calvert County; 288 in Caroline County; 267 in Worcester County; 203 in Queen Anne’s County; 193 in Kent County; 187 in Allegany County; 174 in Dorchester County; 113 in Talbot County; 83 in Somerset County; and 10 in Garrett County, according to the dashboard.

Of Maryland’s confirmed cases, 1,831 have been people age 9 or younger; 3,123 have been people ages 10-19; 9,121 have been people ages 20-29; 11,838 have been people ages 30-39; 11,368 have been people ages 40-49; 10,058 have been people ages 50-59; 7,238 have been people ages 60-69; 4,627 have been people ages 70-79; and 4,344 have been people age 80 or older.

Maryland has identified 33,017 of the confirmed COVID-19 patients as female and 30,531 as male.

Of the Marylanders who have tested positive for COVID-19, 18,377 have been Black, 17,282 have been Hispanic, 12,501 have been white, 1,255 have been Asian, 3,203 have been another race, and data is not available for the remaining 10,930.

Nationwide, there have been at least 2,191,371 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States, including at least 118,436 deaths and 599,115 recoveries. More than 25.4 million people in the U.S. have been tested for COVID-19 as of 10 a.m. Friday, according to a real-time dashboard created by Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

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Marcus Dieterle

Marcus Dieterle is the managing editor of Baltimore Fishbowl. He returned to Baltimore in 2020 after working as the deputy editor of the Cecil Whig newspaper in Elkton, Md. He can be reached at marcus@baltimorefishbowl.com...