This is a picture of CDC’s laboratory test kit for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). CDC tests are provided to U.S. state and local public health laboratories, Department of Defense (DOD) laboratories and select international laboratories. Photo courtesy of CDC.

Less than 5 percent of COVID-19 tests conducted over the past seven days came back positive for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, state data show.

A total of 66,115 Marylanders have tested positive for COVID-19 and 440,282 have tested negative as of Friday morning, according to the Maryland Department of Health’s COVID-19 Case Map Dashboard.

The state has conducted a total of 613,513 coronavirus tests, including 9,916 test results that were reported in the past 24 hours.

For the first time, Maryland’s seven-day average rate of positive tests has fallen below 5 percent. Of the test results reported over the past seven days, 4.92 percent came back positive.

Public health experts recommend a positive test rate of 10 percent or lower.

Last week, state health officials urged local leaders to increase their jurisdictions’ testing efforts to test 10 percent of their populations.

As of Friday, six jurisdictions have reached that guideline: Somerset, Washington, Kent, Dorchester, Wicomico and Allegany counties.

Maryland’s five largest jurisdictions–Baltimore City and Prince George’s, Baltimore, Montgomery and Anne Arundel counties–remain below that benchmark but have been steadily increasing the percentage of their tested populations toward that 10 percent mark.

On Thursday, Maryland Health Secretary Robert Neall suggested that businesses may be allowed to remain open even if the state sees a second wave of coronavirus cases, WYPR reported.

“We had to shut down the economy during the first wave. The second wave, we’re going to have to coexist economically with this pandemic,” Neall said. “And that means that all of our social distancing, our masking, our hand washing and the care that people take for one another is going to make the difference, so that we can fight the pandemic but have an economy that’s functional at the same time.”

Since beginning the state’s recovery plan, Gov. Larry Hogan has pointed to declining rates of COVID-19 hospitalizations and intensive care admissions when determining to lift coronavirus restrictions. Over the past month, the governor has also added the percentage of positive tests in relation to total test results as part of those decisions.

Since the coronavirus pandemic began, 10,725 Marylanders who tested positive were hospitalized at some point, including 487 who are currently hospitalized.

The number of hospitalizations due to coronavirus in Maryland has fallen below 500 for the first time since April 3, when there were 447 COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Of the COVID-19 patients who are currently hospitalized, 297 are in acute care and 190 are in intensive care.

Maryland’s number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care dipped below 200 for the first time since April 3, when it reached 184.

An additional 14 Marylanders have died due to COVID-19 since Thursday, and a total of 3,015 Marylanders have died from the virus to date. There are also 127 people whose deaths are suspected to be related to the disease.

The 14-day average numbers of new coronavirus cases and deaths have decreased or flattened for 21 and 17 consecutive days, respectively, according to the Baltimore Sun’s data tracker.

As of 10 a.m. Friday, 18,307 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Prince George’s County; 14,471 in Montgomery County; 7,768 in Baltimore County; 7,299 in Baltimore City; 5,005 in Anne Arundel County; 2,470 in Howard County; 2,448 in Frederick County; 1,357 in Charles County; 1,104 in Carroll County; 1,078 in Harford County; 1,059 in Wicomico County; 663 in Washington County; 611 in St. Mary’s County; 462 in Cecil County; 404 in Calvert County; 309 in Caroline County; 282 in Worcester County; 220 in Queen Anne’s County; 204 in Allegany County; 195 in Kent County; 182 in Dorchester County; 121 in Talbot County; 86 in Somerset County; and 10 in Garrett County, according to the dashboard.

Maryland has confirmed 1,946 cases in people age 9 or younger; 3,334 in people ages 10-19; 9,685 in people ages 20-29; 12,360 in people ages 30-39; 11,761 in people ages 40-49; 10,424 in people ages 50-59; 7,447 in people ages 60-69; 4,726 in people ages 70-79; and 4,432 in people age 80 or older.

Maryland has identified 34,323 of the confirmed COVID-19 patients as female and 31,792 as male.

Of Maryland’s confirmed coronavirus cases, 18,990 have been Black, 17,918 have been Hispanic, 12,952 have been white, 1,293 have been Asian, 3,292 have been another race, and data is not available for the remaining 11,670.

Nationwide, there have been at least 2,422,555 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States, including at least 124,424 deaths and 663,562 recoveries. More than 29.2 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