Maryland reported more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases Thursday for the second straight day, continuing a worrying trend of increases in the state’s number of cases and hospitalizations even as officials ramp up vaccination efforts.
The state health department reported 1,297 new infections Thursday, the seventh time in the past nine days the number exceeded 1,000.
Prior to the recent spike in cases, the numbers had steadily declined following the holiday season, with the daily total falling as low as 468 on March 2 — the first time it had dipped below 500 since October.
Hospitalizations have also been on the rise, with 1,216 currently being treated. The state hasn’t had fewer than 1,000 hospitalizations since March 28.
Maryland also reported 21 coronavirus-related deaths Thursday, bringing the overall toll to 8,224 since the start of the pandemic.
Gov. Larry Hogan said the uptick in cases, particularly among younger residents, is largely because of mutations of the virus that transmit easier than the original strain.
“Unfortunately these new, more contagious variants that are making people sicker, are spreading like wildfire across the country,” Hogan told WBAL Radio Thursday morning, The Baltimore Sun reported. “They’re hitting younger people.”
Health experts nationwide acknowledge the race between the variants and vaccinating the general population to avoid another massive surge in cases. As of Thursday, Maryland has administered roughly 3.2 million vaccine doses, with 1.2 million residents fully vaccinated, according to the health department.