COVID-19 deaths break record in Maryland

The health department in Maryland reported an uptick in COVID-19 deaths despite declining case rates.

With almost a week left in the month, Maryland has reported 1,475 COVID-19 deaths in January as of Tuesday, more than double the deaths reported in December and the highest death toll the state has seen in a single month throughout the entire pandemic, according to The Washington Post.

Even with the number of deaths climbing, however, the case rate in the state has declined. As of Monday, the average case rate in Maryland was 73.82 per 100,000 people, down from more than 220 per 100,000 earlier this month, data from the state showed.

Experts explain that the discrepancy between falling infection rates and increasing deaths is due to the weeks-long lag that tends to occur between patients testing positive and their symptoms worsening and potentially causing death, the Post reported. 

“My advice is not to assume that everything is over just because things are looking better,” Eric Toner, a senior scientist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said to the Post. “We’ve claimed victory too many times against this virus.”

Andy Owen, spokesman for the Maryland Department of Health, also noted to the Post that roughly 80 percent of COVID-19 deaths in Maryland in the past year have occurred in patients that were not fully vaccinated. 

Across the country, pandemic-related deaths have also climbed in the Los Angeles area, with 102 COVID-19 deaths reported last Thursday, marking the most fatalities the county has seen in a day since March 10, 2021.

While early studies have indicated that the omicron variant tends to be more mild than other COVID-19 strains and less likely to cause hospitalizations, experts have noted that people with omicron infections that become deadly tend to worsen more rapidly than people infected with previous variants. 

“It means that for the people who are, in fact, ending up passing away from COVID, if they were infected with omicron, it looks like they get hit pretty hard earlier on,” L.A. County Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer said.