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

With 10 new COVID-19 cases, weekly pace in Carroll County still slower than past 2 weeks’

Carroll County’s slower pace of COVID-19 cases this week — relative to exceptionally high case totals the previous two weeks — continued Friday, with 10 more residents confirmed to have tested positive for the disease.

The Carroll County Health Department announced that nine of those new cases were among community members living outside of nursing homes and other congregate living facilities. The number of community cases peaked at 109 last week, with 97 the week prior, and the record before that was 60, from the week of April 5.

Advertisement

This week, 50 community cases have been announced so far, compared with 95 at the same point last week. Last Friday, July 31, 23 new community cases were announced.

But county Health Officer Ed Singer, speaking Thursday at the Board of County Commissioners meeting, cautioned that decreased testing capacity might be a factor in the downturn in community cases relative to last week.

Advertisement

The COVID-19 testing site run by the health department was relocated from the Carroll County Agriculture Center to accommodate the Carroll County 4-H & FFA Fair, though it is expected to reopen on Aug. 11. Testing was not offered Sunday, Aug. 2, as it would have been at the Ag Center, and testing will not be offered Sunday, Aug. 9 either.

“The number of tests that we were able to provide the community was slightly reduced this week, so we may see an artificial decrease in the number of cases reported this week just because our testing capacity in the county was somewhat reduced,” Singer said. When testing does return to the Ag Center, he added, the health department hopes to open more slots for testing.

According to health department data, the 14-day rolling average for community cases has risen sharply since the end of June and is now close to double the level it had been at in its previous peak in mid-May. Cases among 18-to-29-year-olds have risen particularly suddenly; that group went from just under 10 cases the week of July 12 to nearly 40 the next week, then 45 the week after that. For comparison, no age group had a weekly rate above five cases during the weeks of June 7, 14 and 21.

The 10th person whose case was announced Friday was a resident of Fairhaven in Sykesville, bringing that facility’s case total to 48 residents and 32 staffers, nine of whom live in Carroll. Fourteen residents have died.

In all, Carroll has seen 1,522 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus — 853 from the community and 669 from county residents who work or live in congregate living facilities.

Congregate living facilities were the sites of Carroll’s sharpest spikes of cases earlier in the pandemic — as well as almost all deaths seen so far, with 125 of 140 — but the pace of new facility cases has slowed to a crawl in recent weeks.

Deaths from the disease have also been trending downward since May, health department data shows, and none who have died as a result of COVID-19 were younger than 40 years old.

Health department data first made available Thursday also shows that among those who have died as a result of COVID-19, 66 had underlying medical conditions that the health department considers to increase risk for “severe COVID-19,″ 51 had conditions that might pose a “severe” risk and 20 had no relevant underlying conditions. Conditions that increase risk of severe illness, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, include cancer, chronic kidney disease, COPD, obesity and serious heart conditions; and conditions that might increase risk of severe illness include asthma, cerebrovascular disease, cystic fibrosis, hypertension, dementia, liver disease, pulmonary fibrosis, thalassemia and type 1 diabetes.

A health department spokesperson said Friday morning that the department did not get full information on three deaths, possibly because the patients died in an out-of-county hospital, so those deaths were not included in the data relating to underlying medical conditions.

Singer said Thursday that about half of Carroll’s adult population has some sort of underlying health risk.

Carroll County’s positivity rate, or the rate at which tests of county residents return positive, rose slightly, to 2.07%. The rate is reported as a seven-day rolling average based on data from the Maryland Department of Health. The statewide rate reported Friday dipped below 4%, dropping slightly to 3.9%.

The World Health Organization recommends that there be a positivity rate below 5% for two weeks before governments take steps to reopen, and 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%.

Advertisement

The number of residents who have recovered from the disease increased for the third straight day, rising by 15 to 647.

Of the 853 community members to test positive in Carroll, 16 are younger than 10 years old; 85 are in the 10-19 range; 170 are 20-29 years old; 113 are 30-39; 134 are 40-49; 187 are 50-59; 95 are 60-69; 31 are 70-79; 21 are 80-89; and one is in their 90s.

Women have accounted for 421 of the positive tests, and men 432.

According to health department data, Westminster has the most cases in Carroll, with 516 across two ZIP codes, followed by Sykesville/Eldersburg with 412, Mount Airy with 201, Manchester with 107, Finksburg with 68, Hampstead with 64, Taneytown with 54, Keymar with 28, New Windsor with 27, Woodbine with 17, and Marriottsville and Union Bridge with 13 each. 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.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement