Maryland's tenuous progress against the novel coronavirus showed signs of wobbling Tuesday as the state reported its largest daily increase of confirmed COVID-19 cases in more than a month.
In a sharply worded statement, Gov. Larry Hogan attributed some of the increase to flagrant violation of public-safety measures.
"The vast majority of bars and restaurants in our state are in compliance, but some are flagrantly violating the law and endangering public health," Hogan said.
"You have the responsibility to enforce these laws. Violators should be warned, fined, have actions taken regarding their licenses or closed if necessary. Local health departments, local liquor boards and inspectors and local law enforcement agencies must work together to ensure public health is protected," Hogan said.
With cases and hospitalizations surging throughout much of the country, at least 12 other states have moved to once again shutter bars and restaurants statewide or in targeted localities.
Maryland has been one of the national exceptions with a manageable number of daily cases and falling hospitalizations and positivity rates. It's too soon to know if Tuesday's increase represented a one-day blip or the start of a worrisome trend.
"Our continued economic health and recovery depend on active and aggressive local compliance and enforcement of these critical public-health measures," Hogan said. "We cannot allow a small segment of willful violators to squander the collective efforts of the overwhelming majority of Maryland citizens and businesses."
There were 733 confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported by the Maryland Department of Health over the last 24 hours. That number includes 14 new cases in Frederick County.
Tuesday's statewide increase is the largest since June 5 when the number of new cases went up by 912. Over the ensuing 39 days, the average daily increase was 448.
This latest surge brought the total number of cases in the state to 74,260, including 2,619 in the county.
Almost two-thirds of the cases statewide were registered with people between the ages of 20-60. The virus is afflicting more state residents (13,905) between the ages of 30-39 than any other age range.
Meanwhile, current hospitalizations across the state rose by 29 after two days of declines, and the number of patients in intensive care increased by 10.
There are currently 415 hospitalized by the virus, including 118 in intensive care.
"We're not out of the woods yet, and it's up to each one of us to choose to lower our own risk and protect ourselves and others in the community," said Dr. Randall Culpepper, deputy health officer for Frederick County.
The state reported eight new deaths over the last 24 hours, bringing the overall total to 3,202. In Frederick County, the number of deaths remained unchanged for a 10th consecutive day at 113.
The vast majority of confirmed deaths in the state have occurred with people 60 and older. They account for 86 percent of the overall total.
Nearly half of the deaths (1,463) across the state have been with people 80 and older.
The state did conduct more than 15,000 daily tests for the second time in three days and the third time over the last week, and the seven-day rolling positivity rate ticked slightly higher to 4.64 percent.