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Baltimore City’s Average Weekly Positivity Rate Is Now Higher Than It Was In May

Baltimore City Health Department handout

Baltimore city officials are urging residents to stay home and obey face masks requirements after an “alarming” increase in the rate of COVID-19 infections in Baltimore.

“The vast majority of you are heeding our pleas to continue to practice social distancing and wear your face coverings,” City Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa said at a news conference alongside Mayor Jack Young on Thursday. “But the case data indicates that not enough of us are.”


As testing volume increases across the entire state, Maryland’s positivity rate has remained steady, while the city’s has increased. As of July 28, the city’s rate is 6.2% while the state’s is 4.8%. “In other words, Baltimore City’s positivity rate is 29% higher than the overall Maryland positivity rate,” Dzirasa said.

As of Thursday, the city’s July peak weekly average of new cases is 137 – which tops the city’s previous weekly peak of 124 in May. Just weeks ago, on July 5, that number was 67.

Dzirasa said the increases are significant and not merely due to an increase in testing.

“This disease is real and it’s dangerous to believe that you are immune or untouchable as it relates to COVID,” she said.

Dzirasa urged residents to stay home when possible and to keep a face covering on hand whenever they leave their homes.

“If you’re close enough to say hello to someone else while you’re out, you should wear a face covering,” Dzirasa said.

Last week, Young issued an order requiring residents older than two to wear masks when they are out of their homes and unable to socially distance themselves from other people. The Democrat said he has been asked by many people how they can get around the mask order.

“I keep seeing people complain about masks and ask for exceptions to be made,” Young said. “Let me be clear. COVID is not making exceptions. We all need to be asking how we can better protect our friends, family and neighbors.”


Emily Sullivan is a city hall reporter at WYPR, where she covers all things Baltimore politics. She joined WYPR after reporting for NPR’s national airwaves. There, she was a reporter for NPR’s news desk, business desk and presidential conflicts of interest team. Sullivan won a national Edward R. Murrow Award for an investigation into a Trump golf course's finances alongside members of the Embedded team. She has also won awards from the Chesapeake Associated Press Broadcasters Association for her use of sound and feature stories. She has provided news analysis on 1A, The Takeaway, Here & Now and All Things Considered.
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