Carroll County appears headed for the lowest weekly total of COVID-19 cases since June, though another death attributed to the disease was announced Thursday.
The Carroll County Health Department reported seven new cases, all of them among community members living outside of congregate living facilities, such as nursing homes and group homes. That brings the weekly total of community cases to 19, from Sunday through Thursday. Last week, with a total of 37 cases, was the lowest Carroll had seen since the last full week of June.
County Health Officer Ed Singer is recommending that school buildings not reopen to students until the county sees at least two consecutive weeks in which no more than 35 new community cases are confirmed each week. If the case totals from Friday and Saturday stay roughly in line with what has been so far this week, the weekly total could finish below that benchmark.
Weekly case totals have declined since the week of July 26, which holds the record for the 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 week of Aug. 10, in numbers that were updated to reflect new information, 54 cases were confirmed, and 61 were reported the week before that.
The death announced Thursday was the first announced since Aug. 24, but it’s the first new fatality traced to a congregate living facility since July 31. The resident of Brinton Woods Health and Rehab Center at Winfield is the 10th to die after contracting the disease at the facility. In total, 38 residents of Brinton Woods and six staffers, two of whom are Carroll residents, have tested positive for COVID-19.
Carroll’s congregate living facilities saw numerous outbreaks in the spring — and nearly 90% of the coronavirus deaths in Carroll County have been staff members or residents — but only 13 new cases have been reported in August.
Carroll has seen 143 coronavirus-related fatalities to date, with 126 from congregate living facilities and 17 from the wider community. And there have been 1,650 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
The county’s positivity rate, or the rate at which tests of county residents return positive, decreased slightly to 1.5%, ending a five-day streak of modest increases. The statewide rate is at 3.3%.
The number of Carroll countians who have been released from isolation increased by 16 Thursday, to 846. The number of community members who have been hospitalized for the virus increased by one, to 108.
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Singer told the Board of County Commissioners on Thursday morning that seven patients were in Carroll Hospital’s ICU as of Aug. 25. Ten ICU hospitalizations at a time is a benchmark because any more would stress the hospital, he said, noting that there were 11 ICU hospitalizations one day recently.
But, he said, “Right now we think things are in pretty good shape with the hospital. Has been for the last month or two. So it’s not something that’s really overly concerning to us.”
McDaniel College in Westminster has reported a total of five positive cases among its campus population, and a total of 968 COVID-19 tests have been administered, up from 912 Wednesday.
Of the 973 community members to test positive in Carroll, 20 are younger than 10 years old; 97 are in the 10-19 range; 197 are 20-29 years old; 126 are 30-39; 154 are 40-49; 211 are 50-59; 103 are 60-69; 40 are 70-79; 24 are 80-89; and one is in their 90s. Women have accounted for 486 of the positive tests, and men 487.
According to health department data, Westminster has the most total cases in Carroll, with 563 across two ZIP codes, followed by Sykesville/Eldersburg with 434, Mount Airy with 208, Manchester with 121, Finksburg with 74, Hampstead with 66, Taneytown with 62, New Windsor with 38, Keymar with 28, Woodbine and Marriottsville with 18 each, and Union Bridge with 17. 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.
Times reporter Christine Condon contributed to this article.