Current COVID-19-related hospitalizations continued to decrease across Maryland, following the announcement Wednesday by Gov. Larry Hogan that the state could start its gradual reopening plan.
Hospitalizations decreased by 12, with drops in both intensive care and acute care numbers. The number of patients in acute care dropped by nine, while patients in intensive care dropped by three.
Hogan cited a 14-day decrease in hospitalizations as his reasoning for moving the state into the first stage of his Roadmap to Recovery. The number of patients in intensive care due to the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 also decreased the past couple days after seeing pandemic highs earlier in the week.
“We have been continuing to closely follow the key metrics over the past week, and today I am pleased to announce that Maryland has achieved the 14-day trend of plateauing and declining numbers,” Hogan said during his press conference Wednesday.
Hogan also pointed to a decreasing number of new deaths each day, leading him to announce a phased reopening, which includes the reopening of retail, as long it stays at 50 percent occupancy or below. The new order also allows for other services, like hair salons and pet groomers to open.
In announcing his reopening plan, Hogan said that the rate of new deaths is trending downward. However, reported death increases over the past 14 days, fluctuated, with increases as high as 74 in a day and as low as 28. One of the deadliest days of the pandemic, so far, was on May 7, when deaths by date was 60, according to the Maryland Department of Health. The Maryland Department of Health publishes new reports every day, but the deaths don’t necessarily occur on that day.
The deadliest date of the pandemic, yet, was April 28, when 67 people died from COVID-19, according to the state health department.
Deaths increased by 54 Thursday, bringing the state total to 1,748.
There continues to be discrepancies between state and county health departments when it comes to deaths, and in some cases, the number of confirmed cases. The Frederick County Health Department often reports a higher death toll because it reports deaths after being told by a facility, family member or hospital that a person it was tracking after a COVID-19 diagnosis has died.
The state requires a complete death certificate to report a death by county of residence, the News-Post previously reported.
Frederick County will roll out reopening on a slower timeline, with places of worship and hair salons not allowed to reopen until May 29 at 5 p.m., County Executive Jan Gardner announced Thursday afternoon.
Gardner made her decision based on the county’s metrics, she said. She did not see the decline in the health metric the governor did, but she said the numbers of hospitalizations and intensive care patients are flattening.
As the county begins to open, the health department will be working to quickly identify new cases and conduct contact tracing, said Dr. Randall Culpepper, deputy health officer for Frederick County.
The health department does expect small outbreaks as the county begins to reopen, Culpepper said.
As the state reopens, the health department urges residents to continue to wear face coverings while in retail stores and when outside with groups of people other than family, continue physical distancing and to keep teleworking as much as possible, he said.
The Frederick County Health Department reported four additional deaths Thursday evening, bringing the total of deaths in the county to 87. Confirmed cases in the county also rose by 45, a six-day high.
Hospitalizations also increased by five, the highest increase since May 5.
But while the county saw increases in cases, death and hospitalizations, it also saw an increase in a positive measure. There were 48 people released from isolation since Wednesday.
Testing in the county is offered at Frederick Health’s drive-thru testing site on Toll House Avenue, at several Frederick Primary Care Associates locations, almost all of the urgent care facilities in the county and several other local providers, Culpepper said.
More testing sites will come online over the next several weeks, he said.