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Maryland leaders express concern over rising COVID-19 numbers

Posted at 7:48 AM, Mar 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-30 07:56:39-04

Right now, Maryland is feeling the effects of lifting some restrictions. COVID-19 cases are rising, the positivity rate is nearly 5% and hospitalizations have also gone up. For the last six days straight, there's been more than one thousand COVID cases a day.

Monday, the Maryland Senate Vaccine Oversight Workgroup discussed the coronavirus numbers. Some were concerned, like Senator Clarence Lam. He quoted the Montgomery County Health Officer who said the rise in cases isn't getting the attention needed. He also referenced the CDC director feeling "impending doom" of another surge in cases.

Dennis Schrafer, the Maryland Acting Secretary of Health, responded saying there is growth but it's fairly flat and the older population getting sick is only 3-5% since many are now vaccinated.

"So we don't want to overreact. We're monitoring very carefully but it's generally been the younger population that's been getting sick," said Schrader.

Lam countered and said, "that's true but the younger population, we've seen also, ends up infecting the older population and that's where the deaths are occurring, and I'm concerned were reopening faster than we can vaccinate."

Right now, the death rate is lower but people are still dying from the virus. Nine more deaths were reported Monday and more than 8,000 people have died in Maryland because of the virus. Experts say typically there's a lag in the death rate. The death rate rises after there's been a steady increase of COVID-19 cases and hospitalization.

"I'm concerned deaths are a lagging indicator so if we're potentially looking at a spike that we're in now that it will be late and any action that would be taken would be late when it comes the time to see a rising number in deaths," said Lam.

He's concerned we are opening too fast but other leaders support the re-opening process by the state.

Schrader said, "we believe by reopening, but maintaining masking and social distancing, it's been very prudent. And we’re in a race to vaccinate the older population as fast as we can, that’s the key to this."

Phase 2 B opened Tuesday, March 30 to anyone 16 or older with underlying medical conditions or disabilities.