BALTIMORE (WMAR) — Maryland's positivity rate is rising. It's near one and a half percent, more than double where it was at on Independence Day and nearly triple where it was at three weeks ago.
While the numbers are going up, they're still far from where they were at the heights of the pandemic.
Still, experts said masks and vaccinations are key to stop the spread of the Delta variant and make sure a new one doesn’t emerge.
"Who knows what the next variant might look like," said Stuart Ray, Professor of Medicine with Johns Hopkins Hospital.
That's his bottom line.
"Somehow these variants are so infectious that they can get a foothold on our continent and take over the epidemic," said Ray.
The surge of the Delta variant is concerning for University of Maryland Medical Center Chief Clinical Officer David Marcozzi, not only because it’s significantly more infectious but it also makes people more sick.
"Because it’s transmitting easier, those people who are not vaccinated are becoming sicker and more of them are becoming sick as a result of this," said Marcozzi.
In June, all 130 people who died of COVID-19 in Maryland were not vaccinated.
While over 7 million doses have been administered across the state, officials said there is more work to be done. Vaccinations will also limit the evolution of new variants.
"I think everyone knows someone who is reluctant and there’s lots of reasons for that and I think not shaming them but finding ways to address their concerns will help," said Ray.
Universal masking, again, also came up as way to stop the surge.
In a series of tweets over the weekend, the former Surgeon General said the CDC should do a 180 and tell everyone, vaccinated and unvaccinated, to wear masks.
And today, the American Academy of Pediatrics said they recommend anyone over the age of two wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status, in the new school year.
"This virus, even if you’re vaccinated, can still move between us and jump to someone who is not vaccinated and cause critical illness in that individual. That’s why masks have been shown to be valuable before the vaccine and still are valuable after the vaccine," said Marcozzi.
According to CDC data, Maryland has vaccinated 76% of adults, and ranks 6th in the nation for full vaccination.