Maryland continues to see a decrease in COVID-19 hospitalizations, a sign that the state could reopen in the next week.

Hospitalizations in the state dropped by 25 between Saturday and Sunday, bringing the state to a total of 1,640 Maryland residents hospitalized for COVID-19.

In Frederick County, hospitalizations increased by one after a few days of no additional hospitalizations. But it is difficult to see the trend, at least visually, in Frederick County because there are few cases that require hospitalizations, compared to the state, said Dr. Randall Culpepper, deputy health officer for Frederick County. But even in the county, hospitalizations are starting to plateau.

“If you look at the data from the state for the past week or so, it looks like the the usage of acute hospital beds, the usage of ICU bed for COVID-19 patients has really plateaued,” Culpepper said. “And that’s what we’ve been looking for. It’s exactly what we needed to see.”

Those numbers are likely what led Gov. Larry Hogan to announce that he would relax the stay-at-home order by allowing for more outdoor activities, like golf and camping, and restarting elective procedures, Culpepper said.

The governor is expected to announce that he will begin the first stage of his Roadmap to Recovery next week, if the hospitalizations continue to follow a downward trend.

Hospitalizations, as well an intensive care unit beds being used by COVID-19 patients, are what the governor and his Coronavirus Response Team look at when determining if the state is ready to start the phased reopening.

The state does not look at the number of confirmed cases, Culpepper said. That is because they can be influenced by testing. The state looks for disease burden, not necessarily how many cases exist.

As testing increases, more people who may have been sick but did not meet testing criteria can now be tested, such as mild symptoms or asymptomatic. So the number of confirmed cases will increase. But that does not necessarily mean that more people are sick. Those people were always sick. Now they just have the positive test result.

“And so there’s no increased disease burden, this disease isn’t getting worse,” Culpepper said. “It’s not spreading, just because we’re seeing increased numbers of cases. So the number of cases is not good representation of how we’re doing.”

As of 10 a.m. Sunday, there were 32,587 cases, overall, in Maryland, an increase of 1,053. Frederick County now has 1,271 cases, which is an increase of five from Saturday.

Culpepper said he uses deaths as a metric, but he is not sure why the state is not looking at them.

In Frederick County, there have been 77 deaths, with an increase of two since Saturday. The latest deaths were a woman in her 90s and a man in his 60s, according to an email from {span}Rissah Watkins, director of planning, assessment, and communication for the Frederick County Health Department.

In Maryland overall, the death toll is 1,538, with 28 deaths reported between Saturday and Sunday, according to the Maryland Department of Health website.

And while the state may start reopening, it does not mean the pandemic is over, Culpepper said. Instead, it means that there is now enough hospital beds for anyone who does get sick.

“Now all along, we’ve always known that we’re trying to do two things in this pandemic, w’re trying to protect our vulnerable populations, and we’re trying to protect our healthcare infrastructure,” he said.

The health department found out about the new allowed activities as the rest of the state did with the governor’s announcement last Wednesday, Culpepper said.

“I think importantly, what it does, is it gives jurisdictions the flexibility to make their own decisions. And I think that’s important,” he said. “Not only our county executive can make decisions for the county, but the local municipality can make their decisions as well, about what they want to open and not open.”

And even as Hogan allowed more activities, residents still need to follow physical distancing, Culpepper said.

“I want to make clear, I don’t think we’re on the roadmap yet,” he said. “I think this was, I think this was I think this was a gift.”

Follow Heather Mongilio on Twitter:

@HMongilio

Heather Mongilio is the health and Fort Detrick reporter for the Frederick News-Post. She can be reached at hmongilio@newspost.com.

(11) comments

Street92

Open Maryland now!

hayduke2

Be careful now! Wait and show a steady decrease. Don't react to the vocal few!

bosco

How's Georgia doing? They've been open two weeks now. I would hazard a guess that they are doing fine or CNN and MSNBC would be covering it.

hayduke2

Too soon to tell the impact bosco... We'll see...( I would be thrilled if it stayed plateaued.)

bosco

Hayduke2, I just saw a fresh article on the FNP website that hospitalizations continue to drop. I wonder what the long term implications of the past few weeks will mean? Some herd immunity must be at play and what we suspected were the most vulnerable have indeed been the most vulnerable. Let's hope we can get back to business with some precautions. [ninja]

awteam2000

Let’s all hope Georgia is successful in reopening businesses.

vodalone

It's good news to see the number of hospitalizations going down, but there are two things to think about.

1. As testing is still not at an adequate level and will continue to get better, cases will go up. Hopefully just the cases going up will not lead to more hospitalizations and can also be figured into the data as no cause for alarm.

2. As restrictions ease and progress from stage to stage, the next wave will hit, it's inevitable. This will cause a give and take in things we can do, and I worry this give and take will be harder to swallow than the original lock down imposed.

Good to know we're getting a reprieve from this hideous Chinese virus, but we have to stay vigilant and not claim victory prematurely.

bosco

vodalone.....with so much focus on testing yes, those numbers will go up but a positive test does not send an asymptomatic person to the hospital. If fact, as more testing is done we are finding out that many people had the virus and didn't even know it. Then there is the school of thought that widespread testing doesn't really help with reopening the economy since we all have to act as if we either have or don't have the virus.

Interesting times.

vodalone

bosco. True, and in all honesty if you look at SARS 1 it pretty much disappeared on its own and a vaccine was never developed. SARS 1 and SARS 2 (Coronavirus) share 80% of the same RNA, SARS 2 is much more contagious and harder to trace because of all the asymptomatic carriers, however it's much less lethal that SARS 1. Scientists say it likely just went away because it mutated or weakened to the point our bodies naturally fought it off, and this may be the case this time around although it will take much longer because of the infection rate.

bosco

Good point vodalone. One needs to follow the statistics and epidemiology to get a true picture of the ramifications. Unfortunately, this virus has become politicized. I wonder how many people afraid to go outdoors without a mask on now would now admit to not washing their hands much in the past or bothering with a flu shot?

bosco

“If you look at the data from the state for the past week or so, it looks like the the usage of acute hospital beds, the usage of ICU bed for COVID-19 patients has really plateaued,” Culpepper said. “And that’s what we’ve been looking for. It’s exactly what we needed to see.”......that's good news!

It's time to get back to business.

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