By Cristina Mendez

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — COVID-related hospitalizations are high across Maryland, a key metric that health experts use to determine the state of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We haven’t seen the huge spikes that we saw earlier in the pandemic but we’re still seeing a very troubling increase,” Loyola University Associate Professor of Biology Christopher Thompson said.

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The Maryland Department of Health reports new COVID-19 statistics on business days after 10 a.m. but with Memorial Day on Monday, the metrics for the weekend and the holiday were not released until Tuesday.

On Friday, the number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 went down by 36. This brought the total amount of hospitalizations to 472. Of the number of people hospitalized, 55 adults and one pediatric patient were being treated in ICUs. Three additional deaths had been recorded by the state.

COVID-19 at home test kits at Davies Pharmacy in Canton. Wednesday, January 5, 2021.
Looking For Covid 19 At Home Test Kits 16

Thompson said in places where many people are using at-home COVID-19 test kits, they may not be reporting their results to the state, which means the case rate may be skewed.

“Looking at the case rate just really isn’t a good metric so we really do look at hospitalization rate and we look at death rate, and both of those have been going up for at least two weeks,” Thompson said.

The professor added that on average, six Marylanders are dying each day from the virus but the vast majority of those infected will survive it.

“Most people aren’t going to end up in the hospital with this virus,” Thompson said. “Most people are going to feel like they have a cold, maybe feel really sick for a few days and then be relatively fine.”

COVID vaccines and preventative care are available for most Americans. Plus, treatments such as anti-viral medications and antibodies are available to people infected with COVID-19. 

Health experts believe these things are helping to curb more serious cases.

The increase in cases in Maryland and across the country started to tick up about two weeks ago, according to Thompson.

“This increase started when nationally and internationally, we started to see the rolling back of some of those COVID mitigation procedures.”

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This includes rescinding mask mandates in indoor settings.

In a virtual conference call Tuesday, Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman said despite the transmission rate being designated as high by the CDC, a mask mandate will not be reimplemented.

Pittman noted that hospitals within the county have not been overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients and the community is heavily vaccinated.

“It’s a good idea to wear a mask to prevent the spread of this virus still but we’re not putting in a mandate because we don’t have that kind of a public health emergency before us,” Pittman said.

The county executive added that people should use common sense and judgment keeping the CDC’s guidelines in mind.

“The virus is spreading fast and it’s very contagious,” Pittman said.

Some residents are doing just that, including Neil Blackman of Baltimore.

“If everybody would just be precautious and wear their mask and do their social distancing, I think we just need to get a better grip on things,” Blackman said.

While indoors, Blackman said wearing a face covering is part of his routine.

“Just wear your mask and protect yourself,” Blackman said.

State data shows that there are more than 4.6 million Marylanders who are fully vaccinated.

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There are various vaccination clinics across Maryland and several testing sites that are available throughout the week.

Cristina Mendez