For the fifth consecutive day, Montgomery County on Thursday had an increase in new COVID-19 cases of less than 1%.

On Thursday, the county recorded 43 new confirmed cases, an increase of 0.31% from Wednesday — the smallest increase in more than three months.

Montgomery County has had 13,862 known cases of the virus.

The county will begin the next phase of reopening on Friday, which allows people to dine indoors, use public gyms and gather in groups of up to 50 people.

A press release said the county has “achieved its benchmarks,” which are used for guidance in determining when it is safe to lift more restrictions for businesses and amenities.

A data dashboard, run by the county Department of Health and Human Services, shows the county meeting or making “significant progress” on eight of 10 benchmarks. The data are updated by 2 p.m. each day.

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The eight benchmarks that the dashboard shows to be met or showing significant progress are:

● COVID-19 related hospitalizations: 196 (three-day average); 14 declining days
● Number of COVID-19 related emergency room patients: three (three-day average); 14 declining days
● COVID-19 related intensive-care unit hospitalizations: 73 (three-day average); 14 declining days
● ICU bed utilization rate: 60% (three-day average); the county benchmark of 80% or less has been met for 14 days
● Percentage of ventilators in use: 43% (three-day average); the county benchmark of 70% or less has been met for 14 days
● Test positivity: 7% (three-day average); 14 declining days
● Number of COVID-19 new deaths each day: four (three-day average); 13 declining days
● Number of new confirmed positive cases each day: 71 (three-day average); 12 declining days

The two benchmarks that the dashboard shows haven’t been met are:

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● Acute care bed utilization rate: 68% (three-day average); the county benchmark of 70% or less has been met for 11 days
● Tests administered: 1,110 (three-day average); 3.9% testing capacity in the last 30 days (the county’s goal is to test 5% of its population each month)

The county added three new confirmed deaths related to COVID-19 on Thursday, according to state data. The total of confirmed deaths in the county is now 667.

Another 40 deaths are considered “probable,” meaning COVID-19 is listed as the cause on a death certificate but it has not been confirmed through a laboratory test.

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Across Maryland, there have been 63,229 cases of the coronavirus, according to Thursday’s data. That’s an increase of 260 cases, or 0.4%, from Wednesday. That is the smallest daily increase since March 7, when no new cases were reported.

There have been 2,886 confirmed deaths in Maryland.