By Ava-joye Burnett

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The new number of COVID-19 cases reported across the state on Monday is the highest it’s been since January, and there are more than 250 hospitalizations for the first time since early March, according to data from the Maryland Department of Health.

Officials reported 1,845 new cases Monday, the most since 2,005 cases were added on Jan. 30.

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Hospitalizations increased by 16 patients over the past 24 hours, bringing the number of patients to 252. That number is down considerably from the Omicron-driven peak of 3,462 patients on Jan. 11, but it represents the most patients since March 10, when there were 254 people hospitalized with COVID-19.

“I definitely see numbers are going up. What I really can’t anticipate is hospitalizations,” says Dr. Kinjal Sheth, the Chief of critical care at Northwest Hospital in Reisterstown. “I’m really hopeful that hospitalizations may go up a little bit but it’ll be a small blip as opposed to a huge surge where the hospitals were overwhelmed.”

As of Monday, 221 adults are in acute care and another 24 are adults in intensive care. Five children are hospitalized in acute care and two more are in the ICU.

The seven-day positivity rate for COVID-19 dipped slightly to 5.99%. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 Community Levels, all 24 jurisdictions in Maryland still have a “low” rate of transmission.

The statewide death toll now stands at 14,230, an increase of nine deaths over the past 24 hours.

During a press briefing, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott warned residents the pandemic is “not over.” In 2022, 340 Baltimoreans have died from the disease, according to the Baltimore City Health Department.

Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa said most of the new cases reported in the city are among residents younger than 40.

“I want to stress the importance of vaccination and getting boosted,” she said. “So that is certainly the first line of defense that we all have, and that everyone over the age of 5 has access to. We have vaccination sites across the city focused on areas with the lowest vaccination coverage.”

Maryland has administered 11,785,920 doses of the vaccine, and 4,620,653 Marylanders are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

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According to state officials, 2,347,923 Marylanders have received their booster shot, including 833 in the last day.

More than two years into the pandemic, WJZ Reporter Ava-joye Burnett spoke with area residents to get their take on the pandemic in 2020 versus now.

Zachary Perkins of Baltimore told WJZ that there is a difference between how people reacted to the threat of COVID-19 in 2020 and how they are reacting to it today. 

“It was a lot more panic,” Perkins said. “It was a lot more everyone being confused about what was going to happen and what we’re going to do.”

But now, navigating the dangers of the pandemic has become second nature to a lot of people, he said.

“The summer will be like the past two summers have been, people kind of let their guards down and just do whatever they want,” Zach Branch of Baltimore said.

“It’s still the same. It’s just not being advertised,” Ericka Comegys of Baltimore said.

Many Americans have resumed traveling. Outings such as concerts, sporting events, and family gatherings have been frequently increasing. Sheth warns that everyone should be mindful of their potential risks.

“I think the biggest thing is that you have to assess a little bit of your own risk every day,” Sheth said. “You walk outside your house, and there are certain risks that you take, and it’s going to be for your personal safety as well as somebody else’s.”

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Ava-joye Burnett