BALTIMORE - Maryland health officials reported 847 new cases of the coronavirus and 18 more deaths Sunday as the state continues to see a declining rate of cases reported daily.
State officials have now reported a total of 370,983 cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, since roughly mid-March. In addition, 7,374 Maryland residents have died because of the disease or complications from it.
Currently, 1,166 people in Maryland are hospitalized due to complications from COVID-19, according to the state, 26 fewer than Saturday. The statewide seven-day average positivity rate is now at 4.63%, down 0.13 percentage points over the previous day.
About 3.12% of tests completed in the past 24 hours came back positive, according to the state. It's the lowest percentage since October and marks the fourth consecutive day the daily positivity rate was below 4%.
Washington County, a jurisdiction of about 151,000 people in Western Maryland, continues to lead the state in its testing positivity rate and rate of infection, although the two metrics dipped slightly in the past 24 hours. Health officials reported Sunday that the seven-day average positivity rate dropped 0.2 percentage points to 9.27%, as well as an average case infection rate of 33.2 cases per 100,000 people.
Dorchester County, a jurisdiction of about 32,000 residents on Maryland's Eastern Shore, reported a slight uptick in its rate of infection and testing positivity rate as 13 more residents tested positive Saturday.
Health officials reported the county has a seven-day average positivity rate of 7.19% and an infection rate of 30.87 cases per 100,000 people, the second-highest counts in the two categories, trailing only Washington County.
As for vaccines, health officials reported that an additional 13,720 people received their first dose and 6,604 second doses were administered. Over the past two months, the state has reported 877,332 total doses of the vaccine have been administered.
Of Maryland's five most populated jurisdictions - Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Prince George's County, Montgomery County and Baltimore City - Baltimore County continues to lead in vaccination rate, with health officials reporting Sunday that 12.40% of residents have received their first dose of the vaccine and that 5.06% have received their second dose.
Some have raised concerns over how the state is distributing the vaccine, as Baltimore County is scheduled to receive the most vaccines over the next four weeks despite being Maryland's third-most-populated jurisdiction.
While the state is reporting a continued decline of daily cases, health officials have reported an increase in the coronavirus variants since they were first detected in January.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of Thursday, Maryland has diagnosed 22 cases of the United Kingdom variant, known as b.1.1.7, and seven cases of the South African variant, known as b.1.351.
The two are believed to be more easily transmittable but not more deadly than the initial strain. There is concern the South African variant is more resistant to current coronavirus vaccines.