BALTIMORE — Maryland could soon hit another pandemic milestone by reaching herd immunity after meeting the governor’s Memorial Day goal of vaccinating 70 percent of all adults in the state.
On Tuesday, Maryland reported 101 new COVID-19 cases, which is lowest number since March 25th of last year. The number of hospitalizations, the state’s positivity rate and other health metrics also continue to decline.
“The proof is in the numbers,” said Dr. Theodore Bailey who is the Chief of Infectious Disease at GBMC Hospital. “Containment is containment so if you are seeing lower numbers, and we really are, that speaks to success.”
Even with the state easing restrictions, virus numbers have continued to drop. Dr. Bailey said it’s a sign the vaccines are working.
“With this kind of decline previously, we had to resort to enforced closures,” he said. “But right now with this drop, we’re not using that method. We relaxed are enforced precautions and we’re relying more on individual responsibility and individual vaccinations.”
"We’re seeing good results,” he added.
At this rate, the state could reach herd immunity well before the end of summer, but Dr. Bailey said containing the virus also depends on surrounding states. In the U.S, 41 percent of Americans have been fully vaccinated.
“People come and go so there’s always the ability to introduce COVID in our state,” he said.
The days of large statewide outbreaks could be long gone, he said. However, Dr. Bailey said there’s still concern about new variants of the virus.
If and when the state does reach herd immunity, he’s worried for the 30 percent of unvaccinated people who could potentially live among one another and spread the virus.
He said their vulnerability to the virus makes it even more important to address vaccinate hesitancy and get as many shots in arms as possible.
“We’re talking about 1.8 million people in Maryland who would still remain fully vulnerable to COVID if they were to be exposed to it and that’s still something for us to be concerned about,” he said.
He said partnering with trusted community leaders and educating the public about the safety of the vaccine should continue to be a priority.
Despite the state lifting the mask mandate, Dr. Bailey also said it’s important for non vaccinated people to continue to wear masks and engage in safe activities.