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Carroll County sees few new COVID-19 cases Tuesday, with weekly totals declining

On Tuesday, the Carroll County Health Department reported a net increase of just three COVID-19 cases and indicated that weekly case totals are declining as testing has risen back to more typical levels.

The department announced four new cases, all among members of the community outside what the department describes as congregate living facilities, such as nursing homes. But it also reported that a Carroll resident who works at Copper Ridge in Sykesville had previously been classified as a community case; that adjustment removes one community case from the county total.

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Last week, Carroll added a total of 53 community cases, down from 62 the week before. The week starting Aug. 10 had previously appeared to be higher based on health department data, but spokesperson Maggie Kunz said the weekly totals “sometimes adjust as we receive additional information/clarifications.”

The record high for weekly case totals was set the week of July 26 with 109 cases, and the second-highest total to date is 97, set the prior week. Before then, the peak had stood at 60 cases, during the week of April 5, since the early phases of the pandemic. The 14-day rolling average of new community cases has been declining since it hit a peak in late July, health department data show.

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Last week saw a return to the previous norm in terms of testing capacity. The health department reported that 95 people were tested on Tuesday, Aug. 11, 102 were tested Thursday and 99 were tested Sunday. That’s in line with the approximately 300 tests that are typically seen in a week at the Carroll County Agriculture Center testing site — but testing levels were just about cut in half when the site was moved.

Ag Center testing was temporarily relocated to Friendship Valley Elementary School starting on July 30 to accommodate the Carroll County 4-H & FFA Fair, and Carroll County Health Officer Ed Singer said about 150 tests were conducted there over the week of Aug. 2. Aug. 11 was the first day that testing resumed at the Ag Center.

In all, Carroll has seen 1,607 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus — 928 from the community and 679 from county residents who work or live in what the county defines as congregate living facilities, such as nursing homes or group homes.

Of the community cases confirmed thus far, as of Tuesday, 88% of those testing positive are white, 6% are Black and 6% are considered “other.” That’s a slight shift from the previous breakdown, which had 87% of cases being among white residents are 7% among Black residents. According to Census data, 91.7% of Carroll residents are white and 3.9% are Black.

A total of 624 COVID-19 tests have now been administered at McDaniel College, up from 489 Monday. No additional positive tests were announced Tuesday, keeping the total at two positive cases.

There have been 141 coronavirus-related fatalities in Carroll, 125 residents or staff of congregate living facilities and 16 among the wider community.

The county’s positivity rate, or the rate at which tests of county residents return positive, through Aug. 17 is 1.2%. That’s Carroll’s lowest rate since the state began releasing that data on March 23. The statewide rate is also at its lowest point yet, 3.21%.

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%.

The health department data shows that 782 Carroll countians have been released from isolation, an increase of four since Monday. A total of 104 community members have been hospitalized for the virus, up by two since Monday.

Of the 928 community members to test positive in Carroll, 20 are younger than 10 years old; 90 are in the 10-19 range; 184 are 20-29 years old; 120 are 30-39; 148 are 40-49; 208 are 50-59; 100 are 60-69; 35 are 70-79; 22 are 80-89; and one is in their 90s. Women have accounted for 458 of the positive tests, and men 470.

According to health department data, Westminster has the most total cases in Carroll, with 543 across two ZIP codes, followed by Sykesville/Eldersburg with 428, Mount Airy with 208, Manchester with 116, Finksburg with 72, Hampstead with 65, Taneytown with 60, New Windsor with 35, Keymar with 28, Woodbine with 18, and Marriottsville and Union Bridge with 16 each. Data is not released in ZIP codes with seven cases or fewer.

Drive-thru health fair

The health department is planning to hold a free drive-thru health fair on Thursday, Aug. 20, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at 290 S. Center St. in Westminster.

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Health department representatives will hand out bags filled with resources about programs relating to behavioral health, environmental health, nursing and administration. Staff members and mascots will be at the event to greet visitors and answer questions.

The department asks attendees to wear face coverings and stay in their vehicles during the event.

“We weren’t able to have our annual Safe Kids Day at the Flower and Jazz festival, and many other events we attend were cancelled this year,” Maggie Rauser, health education supervisor at the Health Department, said in a prepared statement. “We wanted a safe way to share information and fun giveaways with the community, so they know more about what we do, and what services we provide. We also want to thank the community for their support and efforts to protect our community, as Health Department staff have been focused on the response to COVID-19.”

For more information, call 410-876-4448.

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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