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Carroll County’s COVID-19 figures ‘heading in a more positive direction,’ health officer says

With just a few new COVID-19 cases confirmed in Carroll County on Thursday, the county’s top health official said numbers are trending in a good direction but warned against getting complacent with the pandemic.

The Carroll County Health Department announced three new cases, though it also reported that technicalities in previous cases dropped the county’s total to a net decrease of one case.

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The three new cases were among members of the community outside what the department describes as congregate living facilities, such as nursing homes. A health department spokesperson explained that one community case was subtracted from the county’s total because it was determined that individual was not a Carroll resident, and another case was subtracted because it was a test for antibodies of the virus, rather than a test to detect the virus itself.

Two elder care facility staffers who had tested positive were found to not be Carroll residents, so their cases are removed from the county’s total as well. One staffer was from Pleasant View Nursing Home in Mount Airy and the other from Copper Ridge in Sykesville. The health department also announced that two staffers at Springfield Hospital Center in Sykesville who do not live in Carroll had contracted the virus, but they aren’t included in Carroll’s total either.

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So far this week, from Sunday through Thursday, there have been 19 confirmed cases among community members.

County Health Officer Ed Singer told the Board of County Commissioners on Thursday that it appears the county is “heading in a more positive direction.”

Singer said he would be more comfortable with the county’s situation in the pandemic if a level of three cases per 100,000 people could be maintained for a few weeks. That would translate to a weekly rate of 35 community cases, he said.

Last week, Carroll added a total of 53 community cases, down from 62 the week before. The week prior to that, the week of July 26, holds the record for highest weekly case total, with 109. The second-highest total to date is 97, set the week before that. 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 sharply declining since it hit a peak in late July, according to a visualization Singer showed in the commissioners’ meeting.

Singer said, “we’re still in a difficult phase of this, it’s still spreading in the community and we still need to follow the rules. It gets very easy to be complacent after we’ve been in this pandemic now since March ... We really need to stay vigilant and stay on top of this so we can open more things up in our community, especially schools; I think that’s really important. We’ve got to get the numbers where they need to be in order for us to do that safely, so we need to keep on top of this stuff.”

Singer also pointed out that younger age groups are a higher proportion of the caseload than earlier in the pandemic.

The number of current COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit treatment recently reached 11, Singer said, and the last time the average ICU beds in use was at 10 was in May. Singer said it would be better for that level to stay below 10, but he and officials at Carroll Hospital hope the recent increase is an anomaly.

Health department data shows that a total of 108 community members have been hospitalized for the virus, up by two since Wednesday. And a total of 791 Carroll countians have been released from isolation, an increase of nine since Wednesday.

In all, Carroll has seen 1,612 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus — 935 from the community and 677 from county residents who work or live in congregate living facilities.

McDaniel College reported a third positive case from its campus population has been confirmed. A total of 767 COVID-19 tests have now been administered, up from 705 Wednesday.

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

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The county’s positivity rate, or the rate at which tests of county residents return positive, through Aug. 19 declined slightly to 1.23%, close to the record-low rate of 1.2% that Carroll reached Monday. The statewide rate is at 3.29%.

Of the 935 community members to test positive in Carroll, 20 are younger than 10 years old; 92 are in the 10-19 range; 185 are 20-29 years old; 121 are 30-39; 148 are 40-49; 208 are 50-59; 102 are 60-69; 36 are 70-79; 22 are 80-89; and one is in their 90s. Women have accounted for 467 of the positive tests, and men 468.

According to health department data, Westminster has the most total cases in Carroll, with 546 across two ZIP codes, followed by Sykesville/Eldersburg with 428, Mount Airy with 207, Manchester with 115, Finksburg with 73, Hampstead with 65, Taneytown with 60, New Windsor with 36, Keymar with 28, Woodbine with 18, Marriottsville with 18 and Union Bridge with 16. Data is not released in ZIP codes with seven cases or fewer.

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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