covid

Maryland reported its lowest daily positivity rate in more than eight weeks Saturday as Frederick County marked a fourth consecutive day with no coronavirus deaths.

Still, the state tallied 939 new cases overnight, 16 of which were in Frederick County. Maryland’s seven-day rolling positivity rate notched slightly downward to 3.7 percent, half a percent higher than the county’s Saturday rate.

Since the pandemic began, 311 county residents have died of the virus. No new deaths were reported here Saturday, but Maryland reported 20 — bringing the statewide total to 8,575.

With the state’s metrics steadily improving and more than 2 million Marylanders fully vaccinated, Gov. Larry Hogan announced Saturday that the state’s mass vaccination sites would open up for direct appointment scheduling. The pre-registration system has been closed, he wrote in a statement, and all 831,872 pre-registrants have been offered appointments.

“We are in a new phase of our vaccination efforts, where we are focused on making sure no arm is left behind,” Hogan said in the statement. “Making an appointment to get vaccinated is easier than ever, or you can now just walk up or drive through most of our sites.”

Earlier this week, Hogan eased key virus restrictions, declaring all Marylanders — regardless of their vaccination status — were free to go maskless in nearly all outdoor settings.

Plus, Saturday marked the first day bars and restaurants across the state were able to resume standing service in outdoor settings with no limits placed on capacity.

Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner, meanwhile, told the News-Post in an emailed statement Wednesday that she would continue to encourage people who are not vaccinated to wear masks outdoors when they can't physically distance.

Follow Jillian Atelsek on Twitter: @jillian_atelsek

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