Maryland has seen a steady rise in coronavirus case rates and hospitalizations over the last two weeks since Gov. Larry Hogan increased capacity limits to 50% for commercial businesses.
The state’s daily case positivity rate has more than doubled since the restriction rollback on March 12, from 3.63% to 8.69% as of Monday. Hospitalizations have risen from 765 — the lowest number since November — to 1,039 during the same period.
“[W]e’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 told the state Senate Vaccine Oversight Workgroup on Monday.
The comments came hours after the chief of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention remarked about a feeling of “impending doom” as states are reopening and young people are traveling for spring break.
“I am asking you to just hold on a little longer, to get vaccinated when you can, so that all of those people that we all love will still be here when this pandemic ends,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a White House news conference.
Maryland state Sen. Clarence K. Lam echoed her sentiments to the workgroup.
“The younger population we’ve seen, also ends up infecting the older population, and that’s where most of the deaths have been occurring,” said Mr. Lam, a Democrat who represents Howard and Baltimore counties.
Baltimore County residents between the 20 and 29 years old account for the majority of the jurisdiction’s 55,611 reported cases. Health department data show the county has the state’s third-highest case count as of Tuesday.
However, Mr. Schrader said infections among older residents and the state’s overall death rate have remained low.
Nonetheless, Mr. Lam said he is “concerned that we’re reopening faster than we can vaccinate.”
Hogan spokesman Mike Ricci tweeted Tuesday that the state is averaging more than 50,000 vaccinations per day. Health department data show more than a quarter of the state’s more than 6 million residents have received at least one shot.
Maryland entered Phase 2B of its vaccine distribution plan Tuesday, which authorizes residents age 16 and older with underlying health conditions and/or disabilities to get vaccinated.
Mr. Hogan announced Tuesday that the state’s first federally operated vaccination site will open next week in Prince George’s County — the jurisdiction with the most cases.
The Republican governor said the state will have 12 mass vaccination sites by the end of April, which is when all residents age 16 and older will become eligible for a shot.
Meanwhile, Democratic leaders in the District and Virginia are taking a slower approach to lifting coronavirus restrictions.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser increased capacity limits last week to at least 25% for indoor gyms and movie theaters, as well as up to 50 people for outdoor gatherings. The mayor said she will discuss the possibility of loosening more restrictions on April 5.
At least 19.2% of the District’s more than 700,000 residents are either partially or fully vaccinated as of Tuesday, according to the D.C. Health Department.
In Virginia, Gov. Ralph Northam recently announced that beginning Wednesday, capacity limits will increase to at least 30% for entertainment venues, recreational sporting events and graduation ceremonies. Moreover, gatherings can allow 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.
Health department data as of Tuesday show at least 28.9% of the commonwealth’s more than 8.5 million residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
Although the regions are reopening at a slower pace than Maryland, the health departments’ data show young residents also account for the majority of their cases as of Tuesday.