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8 new COVID-19 cases reported in Carroll County, though testing poised to increase

The Carroll County Health Department again reported fewer than 10 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, though Tuesday was only the first day that full testing capacity has been offered since July 28.

The eight cases announced Wednesday were all among members of the community outside of what the county defines as congregate living facilities, such as nursing homes or group homes. Community cases reached new heights three weeks ago, but case totals have been declining this week and last.

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So far this week, from Sunday through Wednesday, 27 community cases have been announced, compared with 32 at the same point last week. Last Wednesday, Aug. 5, six new community cases were announced.

Last week, a total of 60 community cases were confirmed, matching the weekly record that stood from the week of April 5 until the week of July 19, when there were 97 community cases. The week after that saw an even higher total, 109.

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It’s not yet clear whether the numbers of new positive cases have been declining because of reduced testing.

Before it was relocated to Friendship Valley Elementary School to accommodate the Carroll County 4-H & FFA Fair, the county’s testing site at the Carroll County Agriculture Center would typically see close to 300 tests in a week, County Health Officer Ed Singer told the Carroll County Board of Education on Wednesday. But he said about 150 tests were conducted last week.

On Tuesday, the first day it was reopened at the Ag Center, 95 people were tested, according to health department spokesperson Maggie Kunz.

Testing is being offered at the Ag Center from 9 a.m. to noon on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, but the elementary school site was not open on Sundays. Now that the full testing schedule has returned, Kunz said the health department is expecting that more people will be tested this week, relative to the previous two weeks. That’s partly because testing capacity has been increased from 100 time slots per day to 120 per day, she said.

Kunz said “testing has gone in waves, with peaks when people started to get tested before traveling, and when the alert about spread at Dewey Beach [in Delaware] went out; now we are getting a lot of students who need to be tested before returning to college.”

For anyone who wants to schedule a test at the Ag Center, the health department recommends they first call their health care provider.

In all, Carroll has seen 1,564 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus — 890 from the community and 674 from county residents who work or live in congregate living facilities.

No deaths in Carroll County attributed to COVID-19 have been announced since Aug. 3. There have been 140 such deaths in total, and 125 of them have come from congregate living facilities. Those facilities also accounted for Carroll’s sharpest spikes of cases earlier in the pandemic, but the pace of new facility cases has slowed to a crawl in the past month.

Carroll County’s positivity rate, or the rate at which tests of county residents return positive, stayed below 2% for the fifth straight day. The rate, 1.55% as of Aug. 11, is reported as a seven-day rolling average based on data from the Maryland Department of Health. The statewide rate dropped slightly to 3.61%.

The World Health Organization recommends that there be a positivity rate below 5% for two weeks before governments take steps to reopen. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that states wait until they have 14 days of positivity rates under 10%, with an average of two days or less for the return of test results, before initiating a third reopening phase. Carroll’s positivity rate has been below 5% since June 5, when it was 6.33%.

Of the 890 community members to test positive in Carroll, 18 are younger than 10 years old; 86 are in the 10-19 range; 176 are 20-29 years old; 117 are 30-39; 144 are 40-49; 197 are 50-59; 99 are 60-69; 31 are 70-79; 21 are 80-89; and one is in their 90s.

Women have accounted for 438 of the positive tests, and men 452.

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According to health department data, Westminster has the most cases in Carroll, with 528 across two ZIP codes, followed by Sykesville/Eldersburg with 419, Mount Airy with 203, Manchester with 114, Finksburg with 70, Hampstead with 65, Taneytown with 57, New Windsor with 32, Keymar with 28, Woodbine with 17, Union Bridge with 16 and Marriottsville with 13. Data is not released in ZIP codes with seven cases or fewer.

The number of residents that the health department has announced who have recovered from the disease remained at 647. The number of announced hospitalizations also stayed the same, at 102.

Anyone who thinks they or a family member might be showing coronavirus symptoms can call the hotline between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at 410-876-4848, or contact their doctor. After hours, callers may leave a message or call 211. People with emergencies should continue to call 911.

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