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 average percentage of positive tests over the past seven days is down from two weeks ago when Maryland began the first stage of its recovery plan.

Gov. Larry Hogan on Wednesday announced that, starting at 5 p.m. on Friday, the state would move forward with additional measures to reopen businesses and resume activities, including allowing outdoor dinning at restaurants and reopening outdoor swimming pools at 25 percent capacity, as part of phase one of the state’s recovery plan.

State officials would look at the seven-day average percentage of positive coroanvirus tests, in addition to the previously announced metrics of coronavirus-related hospitalizations and patients in intensive care units, to inform their decisions on easing restrictions, Hogan said.

He added that if those metrics show positive trends into next week, Maryland could begin the second phase of the state’s recovery plan.

Public health experts recommend a positive test rate of 10 percent or lower. If a higher percentage of tests is comes back positive, more tests need to be conducted to capture the full spread of the disease.

An average of 12.4 percent of Maryland’s coronavirus tests over the past seven days have come back positive, compared to 16.9 percent in the seven days leading up to May 15 when the state lifted its stay-at-home order, according to state officials.

At its highest point, Maryland’s seven-day average positivity rate was 26.92 percent on April 17. Since then, the percentage of positive tests has trended downwards.

Some Maryland jurisdictions have positivity rates higher than the statewide average.

In Prince George’s and Montgomery counties, the two jurisdictions with the greatest number of confirmed cases in Maryland, the seven-day average positivity rates are 19.4 percent and 14.4 percent, respectively.

Anne Arundel, Cecil and Kent counties also have seven-day average positivity rates that are higher than the statewide average.

Meanwhile, Baltimore County and Baltimore City, the jurisdictions with the third and fourth largest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the state, have seven-day average positivity rates lower than the statewide average–11.7 percent and 11.5 percent, respectively.

Allegany, Calvert, Caroline, Carroll, Charles, Dorchester, Frederick, Garrett, Harford, Howard, Queen Anne’s, Somerset, St. Mary’s, Talbot, Washington, Wicomico and Worcester counties also have seven-day average positivity rates that are lower than the statewide average.

However, only 13 of Maryland’s 24 jurisdictions are below the 10 percent recommendation: Allegany, Carroll, Charles, Dorchester, Garrett, Harford, Howard, Queen Anne’s, Somerset, St. Mary’s, Talbot, Washington and Wicomico counties.

At least 49,709 Marylanders have tested positive for COVID-19, while 225,149 have tested negative as of Thursday morning, according to the Maryland Department of Health’s COVID-19 Case Map Dashboard.

The state’s total number of confirmed coronavirus cases rose by 1,286 as of Thursday, an increase of about 2.7 percent.

Of the state’s total number of confirmed cases, 8,392 people who tested positive for COVID-19 were hospitalized at some point, including 1,334 who are currently hospitalized.

Maryland’s number of COVID-19 hospitalizations decreased by four cases as of Thursday.

In the past seven-day period, COVID-19 hospitalizations were as high as 1,329 on May 22 before dipping to 1,279 on May 25. The number of patients increased for two consecutive days before today’s slight dip.

Of those currently hospitalized, 823 are in acute care and 511 are in intensive care.

A total of 2,307 Marylanders have died from COVID-19, with 37 additional deaths since Wednesday. There are also 121 deaths suspected to be related to coronavirus.

As of 10 a.m. Thursday, there have been 14,508 confirmed cases in Prince George’s County; 10,752 in Montgomery County; 5,678 in Baltimore County; 5,203 in Baltimore City; 3,556 in Anne Arundel County; 1,824 in Frederick County; 1,815 in Howard County; 1,027 in Charles County; 919 in Wicomico County; 840 in Carroll County; 827 in Harford County; 423 in Washington County; 417 in St. Mary’s County; 356 in Cecil County; 320 in Calvert County; 245 in Caroline County; 198 in Worcester County; 178 in Allegany County; 165 in Kent County; 152 in Queen Anne’s County; 136 in Dorchester County; 87 in Talbot County; 73 in Somerset County; and 10 in Garrett County, according to the dashboard.

Of Maryland’s confirmed cases, 1,182 have been people age 9 or younger; 2,119 have been people ages 10-19; 6,815 have been people ages 20-29; 9,214 have been people ages 30-39; 8,989 have been people ages 40-49; 8,176 have been people ages 50-59; 5,867 have been people ages 60-69; 3,780 have been people ages 70-79; and 3,567 have been people age 80 or older.

Maryland has identified 25,849 of the confirmed COVID-19 patients as female and 23,860 as male.

Of the Marylanders who have tested positive for COVID-19, 14,473 have been black, 12,422 have been Hispanic, 9,762 have been white, 938 have been Asian, 2,458 have been another race, and data is not available for the remaining 9,656.

Nationwide, there have been at least 1,700,350 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States, including at least 100,467 deaths and 391,508 recoveries. More than 15.1 million people in the U.S. have been tested for COVID-19 as of 10 a.m. Thursday, 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