While more and more people have been vaccinated, the number of COVID-19 cases in Maryland has increased the past few weeks; and health officials found younger people are getting sick.
Since March 3, the state’s COVID-19 positivity rate has climbed from 3.3% to 4.99% — more than a 50% increase.
“We’re monitoring the age … and we’re finding that younger people are getting ill, and it’s probably natural that younger folks, as we opened up, are more likely to be out and about and getting sick,” acting Health Secretary Dennis Schrader said during the Senate Vaccine Oversight Work Group hearing Monday.
The spike in positive cases coincides with Gov. Larry Hogan’s business opening plan, which has been taking place this month.
Schrader said that the COVID-19 death rate in the state remains fairly low and the percent of older Marylanders becoming infected is very low.
The rise in COVID-19 cases nationwide has raised fears of another coming surge, and the increases in Maryland drew the concern of state Sen. Clarence Lam, a Democrat who represents parts of Baltimore and Howard counties.
“The younger population, we’ve seen, also end up infecting the older population; and that’s where most of the deaths have been occurring, and I’m concerned that we’re reopening faster than we can vaccinate,” said Lam, a physician and member of the vaccine work group.
“We don’t want to overreact,” Schrader said. “We’re monitoring very carefully, but it’s generally been the younger population that’s getting sick.”
Schrader told the panel that the state is expanding its capacity to vaccinate, improving its access to vaccine, and is reaching deeper into communities to get the vaccine to those who need it most.
He said more doses are being delivered to primary care doctors, hospitals and the state’s mass vaccination sites.
In recent weeks, Maryland has been vaccinating people at a rate of more than 50,000 a day. Schrader told the Senate committee that he expects the state will meet that threshold each day over the next couple of months, presenting the possibility that every Marylander who wants to be vaccinated could receive a first dose by June 1.
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