The majority of COVID-19 deaths, hospitalizations and confirmed cases in Maryland over a one-month period are among those who are unvaccinated, the state’s health secretary said Monday.
Secretary Dennis Schrader, speaking before a state Senate vaccine oversight work group, said the data from May 10 to June 8 showed that those who haven’t been vaccinated represent 97% of all new coronavirus cases, 89% of hospitalizations; and 89% of deaths.
“It’s very sobering statistics,” he said. “If you are unvaccinated, you are also susceptible to the highly contagious delta variant, which emerged in December 2020 and it’s now in 100 countries, including the U.S.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House chief medical adviser, said during a COVID-19 briefing Tuesday that the delta variant now makes up 20% of all new coronavirus cases in the U.S., up from 10% about two weeks ago.
Fauci said the two-shot Pfizer vaccine has shown 88% effectiveness against symptomatic disease from the delta variant two weeks after administration of the second dose, along with a 96% efficiency in preventing hospitalizations.
“You put all of these things together, and you come up to what we call a ‘self-evident conclusion,’” Fauci said.
In Maryland, Schrader said, 6.8 million vaccines have been administered, including to nearly 92% of those 65 and older.
He said the state is one of only three states in the country, along with Vermont and South Dakota, with case rates of fewer than one person for every 100,000.
About 72% of Maryland residents 12 and older have received at least one shot of either of the two-dose Pfizer and Moderna vaccines or the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
However, the state still has nearly 1.5 million residents who still haven’t been vaccinated.
“The governor’s message is very clear: for whatever reason you’re still unvaccinated, they should get vaccinated as soon as possible because it’s now easier than ever,” Schrader said.
Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended schools fully reopen by using prevention measures. The strategy includes wearing masks “correctly,” physical distancing, testing and vaccination of teachers and conducting activities such as singing, band or sports outside whenever possible.
Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) asked for an update on when children ages 12 and younger will be eligible for vaccinations.
Schrader said federal officials informed the state it may be happen until later in the fall or possibly the spring.
“Wow,” Ferguson said.
“I’m hoping it’s sooner, but that’s the latest we’ve heard,” Schrader said.
The health secretary said state officials are working with schools to provide testing and personal protective equipment, but “the expectation is we’re going to open all the schools.”
Prince George’s County Public Schools CEO Monica Goldson said the school system — the state’s second-largest with more than 130,000 students — plans to open its doors for the first day of school on Sept. 8.
So far, Goldson said, about 800 families with students in grades kindergarten through sixth grade registered at https://www.pgcps.org/reconnect-pgcps to continue virtual learning for the first semester. The deadline for parents and guardians to apply is Wednesday.
“We’re going to continue to follow CDC guidelines to ensure their safety when they return in the fall,” she said. “We will continue to keep our parents and community updated as we move forward.”