As COVID-19 case rates fall, Maryland marks January as deadliest month on record

MARYLAND – The holiday COVID-19 surge is over, and infection rates in Maryland are dropping.

A Grim Milestone

But as less cases are reported, January has become the deadliest month of the pandemic in Maryland so far. “Any time you see a spike in cases, like what we saw in January with Omicron, usually deaths will follow. No matter how well people are protected or vaccinated, when overall numbers go up, we’ll see those spike as well,” said Travis Brown with the Worcester County Health Department.

According to the Maryland Department of Health, January brought 1,487 COVID-19 deaths. The previous record was set in December of 2020, at 1,392 deaths in a month. Throughout the pandemic, the state has racked up 13,175 COVID-19 deaths in all. “Those folks who came in when we had a higher volume are dying, unfortunately. We’re also discharging a number of folks with good improvements,” said Dr. Chris Snyder with TidalHealth Peninsula Regional Hospital.

Cases Fall, Deaths Rise

At first glance, the different trajectories of infection and death rates might not make a lot of sense. But, as Brown explains, the death rate typically lags behind the infection rate by about a month. And while the label of “deadliest month on record” casts a dark shadow on the fight against COVID-19, Brown says there is some good news. “Even though deaths did go up, they didn’t go up proportionately to the number of cases that we saw. In the early months of the pandemic, prior to the vaccines, we were seeing spikes like this. But, there were far, far more deaths,” he said.

Brown says people getting vaccinated played a big role in that. “Even though they didn’t offer as much protection towards catching Omicron as previous variants, we did see that overall, symptoms were less severe,” he said. “That could be the difference between a hospital stay, a ventilator, or a fatality.”

Outlook Remains Cautious

Over the next several weeks, the number of deaths fall could continue to fall. Dr. Snyder says that more COVID-19 treatments coming out could also help lower the death rate. “I think if we get more tools in the armory it will help mitigate some of the risk for folks who do have higher risk. The sooner we get them into treatment, the better,” he said.

But, that doesn’t mean people should let their guard down just yet, according to Brown. “We do have other things coming up. We’ve got the Super Bowl, we’ve got Valentine’s Day. There’s always something on the radar. So, please just make sure you’re doing everything you can to protect yourself and your loved ones,” he said.

For more information on Maryland’s COVID-19 data, click here.

Categories: Coronavirus, Health, Local News, Maryland