xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

COVID deaths in Anne Arundel County reach level last seen in February

Fourteen Anne Arundel County residents died from a COVID-19 related death last week, the most deaths the county has seen in one week since the coronavirus surge this winter.

County health officer Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman urged residents to get vaccinated as the delta variant of the coronavirus continues to spread in an anticipated fall surge. The county’s elevated case rate is contributing to an increase in patient volumes at a local hospital also faced with a demanding emergency room population.

Advertisement

“We saw that there were 14 deaths last week. That is the most we’ve seen in a week since February, so seven months ago. That’s both sad and not surprising,” Kalyanaraman said in a press call Tuesday. “That’s what we see after a lot of people are hospitalized, because our hospitals do such a good job they’re able to care for a lot of people and get a lot of them to recovery, but not everybody.”

Anne Arundel Medical Center on Monday started postponing some elective surgeries that require overnight care as hospital beds fill with emergency room patients and COVID-19 admissions. Elective surgeries were delayed so hospital staff can treat patients that need immediate care. AAMC and Baltimore Washington Medical Center reported 56 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 between the two hospitals Monday. Eleven people were in the ICU.

Advertisement
Advertisement

About 75% of COVID-19 patients admitted to the hospital are unvaccinated and about 25% are vaccinated.

Patients who are vaccinated and hospitalized tend to have other underlying health conditions, Dr. Stephen Selinger told The Capital when announcing the elective surgery postponement. About 230 people visit the hospital’s emergency room daily, of which an average of 58 patients required a hospital bed.

“Hospitalizations are still much more likely in unvaccinated folk, but because we have so much spread even those who are vaccinated, though at a much lower risk, some of them are getting infected and some of them are even getting hospitalized,” Kalyanaraman said Tuesday.

About 75% of county residents eligible for a vaccine have received at least one dose. Overall, 64% of county residents, including children under 12 who are not eligible yet, have received at least one shot, according to the county health officer.

“That means a third of people still have no vaccine protection. And what that’s leading to is our case rate and hospitalizations,” Kalyanaraman said. “Everybody has a positive obligation to prevent the spread of COVID, and that means getting vaccinated or testing if you are not vaccinated.”

County Executive Steuart Pittman wrote in an op-ed for The Capital Tuesday that a requirement that all county employees get vaccinated or get tested weekly caused anger among employees who wanted overtime pay for their time spent getting tested for COVID-19. The outrage expressed by anti-vaccine staff caused the county to reconsider how to incentivize employees to get the shot by offering a $1,000 payment for vaccinated employees.

The county is using federal funds allocated to local governments during the coronavirus pandemic as part of the federal American Rescue Plan Act. About 5,200 employees, including temporary and contractual workers, are employed by the county.

The county’s case rate, a measure of how the coronavirus is spreading, has steadily increased since July. The case rate has hovered around 17 cases per 100,000 people in the past week. Anne Arundel County, with a population of about 579,000, was labeled an area at high risk of transmission when the case rate was pushed over 14 cases per 100,000 in August. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released guidelines in July recommending both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals wear masks indoors in areas with substantial to high risk of infection.

Anne Arundel County added 82 new cases and one death Tuesday. Statewide, 1,094 people tested positive for the virus and 15 people died.

The total number of confirmed infections in Anne Arundel County since March 2020 is now 48,733 and at least 690 residents have died. Fifteen others are suspected of having died of the virus but were never tested. Across the state, at least 512,740 infections have been recorded since March 2020, and at least 9,979 Marylanders have died of the virus.

The state reported 828 Maryland residents are hospitalized with COVID-19 on Tuesday. About 622 of those patients require acute care beds, and another 206 are receiving more serious care.

“I get asked a lot when are we going to get over this? Well, we’re going to get over this when we all do everything we need to do,” Kalyanaraman said. “We need to get vaccinated. But for those who aren’t, you need to get tested. And given our rate of spread it’s important for people to mask at indoor public settings.”

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement