Open Safe Maryland

Is Maryland Effectively Containing COVID-19? 7/27/2020

Our weekly trends and risk assessment report on COVID-19 in Maryland.

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Emily Scarr
Maryland PIRG State Director

Author: Emily Scarr

Maryland PIRG State Director

(410) 467-9389

Started on staff: 2005
B.A., Vassar College

Emily directs strategy, organizational development, research, communications and legislative advocacy for Maryland PIRG. Recently, Emily helped win small donor public financing in Montgomery County, Howard County, Prince George's County, and Baltimore City; the Family and Firefighter Protection Act to ban flame retardants in children's products, furniture and mattresses; and, the Maryland Keep Antibiotics Effective Act to protect public health by restricting the use of antibiotics on Maryland farms. Emily serves on the Executive Committees of the Maryland Fair Elections Coalition, the Maryland Campaign to Keep Antibiotics Working, and the Maryland Tobacco Free Kids Coalition. She also serves on the Steering Committees for the Maryland Pesticide Action Network and Marylanders for Open Government. Emily lives in Baltimore with her husband, children, and dog.

STATUS: RED

COVID Exit Strategy, a non-partisan group of public health and crisis experts, has been tracking the progress states have made towards containing COVID-19. However, the virus has reached levels in too many US states to plan for an immediate “reopening.” Over 1,000 health professionals have now joined a call from Maryland PIRG and USPIRG to shut down, start over, and do it right, which we have shared with Gov. Larry Hogan. We can still get COVID-19 under control, but it will require bold, coordinated, nationwide action: universal face coverings, shutting down high risk businesses, and a ban on non-essential interstate travel.

Benchmark: Daily cases per 100,000 population. Status: RED

Health experts recommend that a community maintain a rate of daily confirmed infections per 100,000 population below 3 to contain COVID-19. Infections have been growing in Maryland over the last 5  weeks, putting the 7-day moving average for daily new infections per 100,000 at 14, 11 higher than our target. To move to “Yellow” status, indicating  a need for caution rather than a move back towards lockdown, this number would need to fall below 8.

Benchmark: Sufficient testing to track the spread. Status: YELLOW

To adequately track the spread of COVID-19, a state should have sufficient testing capacity such that 2% or less of tests are returned positive. Maryland’s 7-day average is 5%, 3% higher than the goal. To reach a “Green” rating, the state will need to expand testing and reach a test positivity rate less than 3%.

Benchmark: Sufficient hospital capacity to avoid crisis care. Status: YELLOW

A state should have enough hospital and ICU beds available (at least 20% over the last week) to take care of all patients without resorting to crisis standards of care. HHS reports that Maryland hospitals are currently 73% full, and Maryland ICUs are 59% full. This meets the benchmark, but inpatient capacity is within 10% of the CDC recommended threshold, meriting caution. 

Recommendations

Maryland is currently failing 2 out of 3 of the critical benchmarks Maryland PIRG has been tracking. Over 1,000 medical professionals have joined a call from USPIRG and Maryland PIRG to shut down, start over, and do it right, which we have shared with Gov. Larry Hogan. We can still get COVID-19 under control, but it will require bold, coordinated, nationwide action: universal face coverings, shutting down high risk businesses, and a ban on non-essential interstate travel. 

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Notes and Citations

Emily Scarr
Maryland PIRG State Director

Author: Emily Scarr

Maryland PIRG State Director

(410) 467-9389

Started on staff: 2005
B.A., Vassar College

Emily directs strategy, organizational development, research, communications and legislative advocacy for Maryland PIRG. Recently, Emily helped win small donor public financing in Montgomery County, Howard County, Prince George's County, and Baltimore City; the Family and Firefighter Protection Act to ban flame retardants in children's products, furniture and mattresses; and, the Maryland Keep Antibiotics Effective Act to protect public health by restricting the use of antibiotics on Maryland farms. Emily serves on the Executive Committees of the Maryland Fair Elections Coalition, the Maryland Campaign to Keep Antibiotics Working, and the Maryland Tobacco Free Kids Coalition. She also serves on the Steering Committees for the Maryland Pesticide Action Network and Marylanders for Open Government. Emily lives in Baltimore with her husband, children, and dog.