With 23 new COVID-19 cases among Carroll County community members reported Friday, the county nearly tied the weekly record set last week, with one more day left in the week, and ended July with triple the amount of cases reported in June.
Those new cases announced by the Carroll County Health Department are all from the community outside of what the county defines as congregate living facilities, which include nursing homes and correctional facilities. This week there have been 95 new cases among community members, second only to last week, when the weekly record was set with 96 community cases.
A total of 21 cases originating from congregate living facilities were announced in July, compared to an even 300 among county residents outside of those facilities. By comparison, 93 cases were announced among community members in June.
Carroll has now seen 1,449 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Of those, 785 have come from the community and 664 have come from county residents who work or live in congregate living facilities.
Speaking at the Carroll County Board of Education meeting Wednesday night, county Health Officer Ed Singer said he is “very concerned” with the direction in which Carroll cases are trending.
“A couple weeks ago when you guys were talking about a hybrid model I was feeling pretty comfortable with things,” he said, referring to a plan that would have had students in school for two days per week. “[Now] I’m more concerned.”
The Carroll County Health Department also announced on Friday five cases that originated from a nursing facility, as well as two deaths.
Residents of that facility, Birch Manor Healthcare Center in Sykesville, accounted for four of those cases and both deaths, though a health department spokesperson said all of them occurred about a month ago but were not confirmed until Friday. The fifth case was that of a staffer who lives in Carroll; because that one was recent, the health department again considers the facility to have an active outbreak.
Birch Manor has now had a total of 68 residents and six staffers (five who live in Carroll) contract the virus, and 21 residents have died.
Congregate living facilities still account for the majority of Carroll’s coronavirus-related deaths — 126 of 140 — but they have been the source of few new cases, unlike in the first months of the pandemic.
As of July 29, 77% of the congregate living facility residents who have tested positive for the virus are white, 21% are Black and 2% are classified as “Other.” Those figures have swung further out of balance since they were first posted online June 23, when 84% were white and 14% were Black. A health department spokesperson said the department is unsure about any reasons for the shift.
The rate of infection for Black residents of those facilities in Carroll is more than five times the U.S. Census’ countywide percentage of black residents in the county: 3.8%. The share of county residents who are white is 91.9%.
Among members of the wider community outside congregate living facilities, where ethnicity is known, 15% are Hispanic. Where race is known, 87% of those testing positive have been white, 7% have been Black and 6% considered “Other.”
Carroll County’s positivity rate, or the rate at which tests of county residents return positive, declined slightly 3.53% through July 30. That’s the highest since July 8, when it was 3.71%.
The rate is reported as a seven-day rolling average based on data from the Maryland Department of Health. The statewide rate is 4.54%. As a reference, the World Health Organization recommends that there be a positivity rate below 5% for two weeks before governments take steps to reopen.
The number of residents who have recovered from the disease rose by 15 Friday, to 590, and the number of hospitalizations for the disease rose by two, to 98.
Of the 785 community members to test positive in Carroll, 16 are younger than 10 years old; 74 are in the 10-19 range; 155 are 20-29 years old; 109 are 30-39; 122 are 40-49; 172 are 50-59; 90 are 60-69; 27 are 70-79; and 19 are 80-89. The first case among someone 90-99 years old was announced Friday.
Women have accounted for 390 of the positive tests, and men 395.
According to health department data, Westminster has the most cases in Carroll, with 483 across two ZIP codes, followed by Sykesville/Eldersburg with 400, Mount Airy with 197, Manchester with 99, Hampstead with 61, Finksburg with 59, Taneytown with 53, Keymar with 28, New Windsor with 27, Woodbine with 15, Marriottsville with 13 and Union Bridge with 12. Data is suppressed in ZIP codes with seven cases or fewer.
The county’s COVID-19 testing site has temporarily relocated from the Carroll County Agriculture Center to Friendship Valley Elementary School.
Testing will also be done at the school, at 1100 Gist Road in Westminster, on Aug. 4 and 6, but not on Sundays, a day that has been supported at the Ag Center. Summer hours at the testing site are 9 a.m. to noon. The testing site is planned to return to the Ag Center on Aug. 11.
In order to get an appointment for a test, the health department notes, residents may schedule a test through their health care provider or complete a testing form online at cchd.maryland.gov/covid-19-testing-in-carroll-county/.
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.