by Bryan Renbaum, MarylandReporter.com
Maryland’s coronavirus positivity rate is lower than that of most states because the state took swift action to limit the spread of the virus, according to one of Maryland’s top doctors.
A WalletHub study released on Tuesday found that Maryland has the 8th most coronavirus-related restrictions in the nation. California has the most restrictions and South Dakota has the least, according to the study.
States that lifted restrictions early, such as Texas and Florida, are now seeing a rapid rise in the number of positive cases, while Maryland’s positivity rate continues to drop.
Maryland is included among 22 states whose positivity rate is below 5 percent. Only 17 states have a lower positivity rate than Maryland. The numbers also contradict President Trump’s assertion that as states test more the rate will increase. The state has conducted more than 734,000 tests.
Dr. Paul Christo, who is the associate professor in the Division of Pain Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said Maryland and other states that have been “more restrictive and more conservative when it comes to the removal of the safety precautions for COVID have less of an increase in cases.”
Christo said the same premise is true worldwide.
“Parts of Europe, for example-that have still been quite restrictive on allowing citizens to get together, gather, remove their protective equipment-have also not seen an increase as we have in the United States.”
Christo credited Gov. Larry Hogan for the progress Maryland has made in the fight against COVID.
“A lot of it probably stems from the governor of the state…who has been more conservative in his approach to liberalizing social gatherings.”
Christo poured cold water on the contention by some that the summer heat limits susceptibility to COVID.
“I think that initially, the thought was that there would be less susceptibility to infection. But I feel like given what we’re seeing in terms of the increased number of cases that that is probably not particularly accurate.”
Christo said part of the reason for the recent increase in cases that many people are not taking the proper precautions.
“Fewer Americans, I think, are taking the necessary precautions to prevent infection. Fewer are wearing masks. They’re not social distancing…I think that’s why we’re seeing a rise in COVID infections this summer.”
Del. Brian Chisholm (R-Anne Arundel), who sits on the Health and Government Operations Committee, said the positivity rate is not the most important metric to consider when looking at COVID cases.
“It’s a mistake to look at positive cases because there is a lot of positive cases in which the people may be asymptomatic.”
Chisholm emphasized that the fatality rate is the metric by which progress should be measured.
“The only real metric we should be looking at is the fatalities…The fact that Georgia or Florida has a lot of cases but the fatalities per 100,000 is less than ours-it doesn’t mean we did better. It means that we have less positive cases at any particular time.”
Chisholm referenced recent data that showed that Maryland has the 10th highest COVID fatality rate in the nation.
There are 70,396 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Maryland as of Tuesday morning, according to the state’s Department of Health, and 3,140 people in Maryland have died from the virus.
Hogan touted the state’s progress against the virus in a statement on Monday.
“As we continue to see encouraging trends in all of our key health metrics, widespread testing across each of Maryland’s 24 jurisdictions remains a critical component of our long-term recovery,” he said. “I want to congratulate Baltimore County on becoming the 11th jurisdiction to meet the statewide goal of testing 10% of their population. We are pleased to see more county leaders in Maryland doing their part by expanding testing efforts at the local level.”