Baltimore City has emerged as a coronavirus hot spot in Maryland, hitting levels not seen since the winter holidays.

The daily seven-day average of new cases in the city recently reached 244, a level last seen in early January when the pandemic was at its peak, The Baltimore Sun reported Friday.

Baltimore’s cases started creeping upward in the weeks after restaurants and bars began reopening in January, The Sun reported.

“The recent rise in new COVID-19 cases and fatalities in Baltimore City is deeply concerning, particularly among residents under 70,” Mayor Brandon Scott and the city health department said in a joint statement, The Sun reported. “With a positivity COVID-19 positivity rate above 5%, we have reached widespread community transmission, and are currently unable to pinpoint a specific driver for the rapid rise in cases.”

The state health department attributed the city’s spike in cases largely to a newer, more contagious coronavirus variant first discovered in the U.K. and now prevalent throughout the U.S.

“The presence of new COVID-19 variants, increased city resident mobility approaching pre-pandemic times, and less vigilance around social distancing and mask wearing all appear to be contributing factors,” the Baltimore officials said. “The pandemic is far from over.”

About 32% of the city’s population has been partially vaccinated, compared with 40% in Maryland, The Sun reported.

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WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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