COVID-19 cases are back on the rise in Maryland as the state slowly pushes to add more adults and teens to the ranks of the vaccinated.
After something of a respite in June, when daily new case numbers began to fall below 100 for the first time during the pandemic, cases are again topping 200 and 300 per day.
Though the daily case numbers remain far below some of the worst days of the pandemic, the rise is particularly concerning for the unvaccinated.
In June, state health officials reported, all COVID-19 deaths were among unvaccinated people. More than 90% of all new cases and hospitalizations were also among unvaccinated people, Gov. Larry Hogan reported earlier this month.
The state’s positivity rate, or the percentage of people who are positive for COVID-19 among those being tested, has also crept higher, to 2.31% as of Tuesday.
The number of people hospitalized has grown from below 100 at the start of July to over 180.
Cases are also rising across the nation as experts point to the surging delta variant, a more contagious form of the virus, and continued vaccine refusal.
“If you have not gotten your vaccine, the virus and its variants are a dangerous threat to you,” Hogan said this month.
Vaccine administration has also plateaued in recent months, showing the difficulty of reaching the last quarter of the adult population that has not yet received a dose.
More than 76% of all adults in Maryland have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Two of the available vaccines require two doses.
Three and a half million Maryland adults are fully vaccinated against the virus.
But the data shows that the number of Marylanders getting vaccinated has slowed.
Hogan announced that 70% of Maryland adults had received at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine at the end of May, well ahead of the July 4 deadline that President Joe Biden announced for the nation.
The U.S. was still a few points short of the 70% goal on July 4.
In the two months since Maryland hit the 70% mark, the state has slowly added just under 7% of adults to that total.
Vaccination rates remain stubbornly low in some parts of Maryland, particularly in rural regions of the state.
In Washington County, less than 40% of adults have received one dose of the vaccine. In Somerset County, only 37% of adults have received one dose, according to state data.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Tuesday that it would recommend vaccinated people wear masks indoors in some settings because of the delta variant.
Though the COVID-19 vaccines are effective, a small percentage of fully vaccinated people will catch the virus if they are exposed to it, the CDC warns.
Fully vaccinated people are much less likely to be hospitalized or die of COVID-19, according to the CDC, and some evidence suggests their symptoms will be less severe.
Hogan and the state department of health have not announced any changes to COVID-19 restrictions. Hogan ended all of the state’s remaining health restrictions on July 1 and is set to formally end the COVID-19 state of emergency in mid-August.
Madeleine O’Neill covers the Maryland State House and state issues for the USA Today Network. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @maddioneill.