Coronavirus-related hospitalizations are the lowest since April 13, Gov. Larry Hogan said Friday, as Maryland enters stage two of recovery.

MARYLAND — Many businesses that have been closed since March will be able to reopen at 5 p.m. Friday as Maryland enters stage two of its recovery plan. The change comes as the state has passed a milestone of conducting 400,000 coronavirus tests, Gov. Larry Hogan said Friday.

The state has conducted more than 405,000 coronavirus tests as of Friday, with 56,770 people testing positive, the Maryland Department of Health reported.

"As we prepare to enter stage two of reopening, our positivity rate has dropped to 8.4 percent," Hogan said in a statement Friday. That means of all who were tested on a seven-day rolling average, 8.4 percent were positive for the virus as of Friday.

More Maryland businesses will be able to open at 5 p.m. Friday, such as nail salons and insurance agencies. In addition, courts will enter phase two of the Maryland Judiciary's five-phased plan, enabling people to come to court in person who have hearings scheduled; otherwise, everyone else is prohibited from entering. On Monday, state government offices will also begin a phased opening.

Local jurisdictions in Maryland have the authority to be more restrictive than the state in reopening. See where each stands in the reopening process.

"Moving into stage two does not mean that this crisis is behind us or that we can afford to stop being vigilant and cautious," Hogan said at a news conference announcing the reopening. "Continue practicing physical distancing — staying 6 feet apart and avoiding crowds and close gatherings."

After demonstrations sprang up across the state in response to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, health experts and government leaders have said there is potential for the virus to spread, since it is transmitted person to person through respiratory droplets.

"I'm glad that people are able to freely express their frustrations and to get out and protest," Hogan said at a Wednesday news conference. "I am concerned that so many people are gathered so closely together."

Free coronavirus testing is available for the virus in each jurisdiction, and the governor urged protesters to get tested.

"If you were in close proximity with a whole lot of people," Hogan said, "you should take advantage of that and get one of these available tests."

While there is no vaccine and no cure for COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus, testing is the way to monitor its spread.

"We are and will continue to be much better positioned than most states when it comes to testing," Hogan said in a statement Friday, "and our strategic stockpile of tests and our successful long-term strategy will ensure that we have a strong and fully functioning supply of tests until there is a vaccine."

Many who have the virus do not have symptoms but can still spread the illness.

"Be careful," Hogan said to those who attended demonstrations and other large gatherings recently. "I wouldn't be hugging grandma until you get that test."

A total of 2,580 people in the state have died from COVID-19, according to the Maryland Department of Health.

As of Friday, state health data shows the following about COVID-19 deaths in Maryland:

  • 86.5 percent of the state's coronavirus deaths have been people age 60 and older.
  • 53 percent of those who died from COVID-19 are residents of congregate living facilities.
  • 45.8 percent of those who have died from the virus have been 80 years or older.
  • 45.3 percent of the deaths are in Montgomery and Prince George's counties.
  • 24.2 percent of the deaths are in Baltimore County and Baltimore City.

"All Marylanders, particularly those older and more vulnerable populations, are advised to continue staying home whenever possible," Hogan said during stage two of the state's recovery. Read more at Patch