Carroll County added 11 COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, bringing the weekly total within just two cases of being the worst yet among members of the community outside of congregate living facilities.
The Carroll County Health Department reported that the 11 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, are all among locals not living in what it labels as congregate living facilities, which include nursing homes, correctional facilities and group homes. On Tuesday the health department announced 24 new community cases, and it announced 23 Monday.
The number of new community cases confirmed this week has risen to 58, with two more days to go. That’s second only to the week starting April 5, when there were 60 community cases and the pandemic was still relatively new to the county and state. By comparison, 37 community cases were announced last week, and 40 were reported each of the previous two weeks.
The 24-case increase announced Tuesday was the largest daily increase in cases among the wider community since June 1, when 24 new community cases were announced.
Cases have been stagnant in recent weeks among congregate living facilities, which bore the brunt of Carroll County’s case load in the early weeks of the pandemic. Carroll has seen 1,288 COVID-19 cases, 637 of them from the community.
However, congregate living facilities continue to represent most of the county’s deaths from the disease. Of Carroll’s 136 deaths attributed to COVID-19, 122 have been from those facilities.
Despite the recent increases in new cases among Carroll residents, Carroll County Health Officer Ed Singer does not currently plan to pursue any stricter limitations aimed at reducing spread. Reacting to an increase in cases in Baltimore, city officials are suspending indoor dining and toughening mask restrictions.
“I just spoke to our health officer and we are not at this time planning a similar response in terms of increasing restrictions,” health department spokesperson Rachel Tabler said in an email Wednesday morning. “We expected an uptick in cases after reopening, and at this time we are encouraging individuals to continue following the governor’s executive orders, social distancing guidelines, and the face covering executive order.”
Singer was among several county leaders who on July 16 issued a joint statement “strongly recommending” that Carroll countians continue to wear face coverings to help mitigate the virus’ spread.
Singer said in that statement, “This work can’t be done by one agency or group — we need our whole community to be a part of these efforts, to protect each other, and to build resilience and strength across all ages, races, and levels of socioeconomic and health status.”
Other jurisdictions in the region have advocated this week for reversing reopening steps in response to COVID-19 case loads increasing.
Notably, Baltimore on Wednesday acted to that effect, as Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young ordered city restaurants to suspend indoor dining for at least two weeks, starting at 5 p.m. Friday. Baltimore is also requiring all people over the age of 2 to wear face coverings in public, though the city’s health commissioner clarified that the mask order applies to outdoor situations in which people are unable to social distance, such as a cookout.
And on Tuesday, Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. called on Gov. Larry Hogan to limit indoor dining statewide but said he would not issue a local restriction for restaurants because of concerns about how it would impact businesses. Health officers from Maryland’s five largest counties, including Baltimore County, and Baltimore City are asking the state to consider renewed requirements on bars, restaurants and other establishments to curb the recent rise in coronavirus cases.
Hogan, when asked Tuesday during a CSPAN-2 appearance whether he might consider “shutting down certain aspects of business again,” said that it’s too soon to tighten restrictions on businesses. “Our goal would be to try to keep business open and the economy unless it’s absolutely necessary,” he said.
Carroll County’s positivity rate, or the rate at which tests of county residents return positive, rose a quarter of a percentage point Wednesday to 3.06% through July 21. That’s the highest it has been since July 9. The rate is reported as a seven-day rolling average based on data from the Maryland Department of Health. The statewide rate is 4.49%.
Of the 637 community members to test positive, 12 are younger than 10 years old; 40 are in the 10-19 range; 114 are 20-29 years old; 91 are 30-39; 103 are 40-49; 158 are 50-59; 80 are 60-69; 21 are 70-79; and 18 are 80-89. Women have accounted for 314 of the positive tests, and men 323. In cases where race is known, 87% of those testing positive have been white, 7% have been Black and 6% considered “Other.” Where ethnicity is known, 17% are Hispanic.
According to health department data, Westminster has the most cases in Carroll, with 421 across two ZIP codes, followed by Sykesville/Eldersburg with 353, Mount Airy with 190, Manchester with 92, Hampstead with 53, Taneytown with 47, Finksburg with 43, Keymar with 28, New Windsor with 26, Woodbine with 14, Marriottsville with 10 and Union Bridge with nine. Data is suppressed in ZIP codes with seven cases or fewer.
The number of hospitalizations for the disease stayed flat at 90.
Anyone who thinks they or a family member might be showing coronavirus symptoms can call that 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.
Baltimore Sun reporters Talia Richman, Colin Campbell and Jeff Barker contributed to this article.