BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Maryland recorded 7,870 new cases of COVID-19 while the state’s positivity rate and hospitalizations continued to drop, according to data released Sunday by the Maryland Department of Health.

The latest round of health department data shows hospitalizations fell by 156 during the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of COVID-19 patients currently being treated by hospitals throughout Maryland to 3,122.

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The statewide COVID-19 positivity rate is 21.91%, a 0.94% decrease.

A total of 899,672 cases have been documented in Maryland since the outset of the pandemic.

A total of 12,416 Marylanders have now died of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, including 58 deaths reported over the past 24 hours.

The latest metrics come as Maryland is under a state of emergency issued by Gov. Larry Hogan in response to elevated cases and hospitalizations. Several hospitals have shifted to crisis protocols to keep up with demand for care.

Of those hospitalized, 2,532 are adults in acute care settings and 552 are adults in intensive care. Another 31 are children in acute care and seven are in the ICU.

Hogan has attributed the surge in cases to the highly transmissible Omicron variant, which he said is “now clearly the dominant variant among our state’s lab-confirmed cases.”

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Hogan issued an executive order on Jan. 4 empowering the Maryland Department of Health to regulate hospital capacity and resources, and authorizing retired, out-of-state and graduate nurses to practice here. A second order aims to beef up EMS response.

In recent weeks, the state has ramped up its testing operations in an effort to keep up with public demand. That includes the opening of 20 new testing sites statewide that will be staffed by the Maryland National Guard.

The governor said six of those sites—UM Shore Regional Health, Tidal Health, Garrett Regional Medical Center, Holy Cross Germantown Hospital, Howard County General and UM Baltimore Washington Medical Center—will be up and running by the end of next week.

Additionally, Hogan announced that Maryland will be distributing 20 million N95 and KN95 masks through local health departments, state-run testing and vaccine clinics and nursing homes next week.

Starting on Jan. 21, the governor said, the state will also be requiring staff, volunteers and vendors at nursing homes to test for COVID-19 twice a week in areas where community transmission is high.

There are 4,337,717 Marylanders fully vaccinated and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 93.3% of the state’s adults have gotten at least one dose. Among Marylanders age 5 and older, 87.4% of residents have gotten at least one does of the vaccine.

The state has administered 10,764,165 doses of the vaccine. Of those, 4,569,062 are first doses, 6,266 in the last 24 hours. Another 4,007,427 are second doses, 2,273 in the past day. The state has administered 1,857,386 booster doses, including 15,310 in the past 24 hours.

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A total of 330,290 Marylanders have gotten the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, 77 in the past day.

CBS Baltimore Staff