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Maryland resumes reporting case data after cyberattack

December 21, 2021 GMT

BALTIMORE (AP) — For the first time since Maryland officials took state health department servers offline amid an apparent cyberattack earlier this month, coronavirus case numbers and positivity rate data were available again on the department’s website Monday, showing a jump in cases and the testing positivity rate.

Maryland Department of Health Secretary Dennis R. Schrader thanked a team of employees who worked to get the site back online, saying the data “is critical to our keeping the public informed and to further drive our COVID-fighting operations.”

Since Dec. 3, more than 28,500 people have tested positive in Maryland, bringing the state’s case total to 621,220, while the seven-day average testing positivity rate nearly doubled from 5.4% to 10.3%, officials said Monday. Hospitalizations have grown to 1,345, more than twice the number a month earlier.

Although the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Monday that the omicron variant is now the dominant version of the coronavirus in the U.S., the delta variant is still the most prevalent in Maryland, Deputy Secretary for Public Health Dr. Jinlene Chan said in a statement.

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Unusual activity was detected on the health department’s website on Dec. 4. Employees initially assumed it was a malfunction, but later in the day suspected it was related to a cybersecurity incident, Chip Stewart, the state’s chief information security officer, said in a briefing Monday afternoon. Stewart said the servers were taken offline out of an abundance of caution and are being brought back methodically. He declined to describe the nature of the attack.

“Teams are working around the clock right now to restore all of the data,” he said.

Officials said Monday that there is no evidence any data was compromised. The department is working with state and federal law enforcement as part of the ongoing criminal investigation, Stewart said.