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Carroll County reports first COVID-19 death of community member since August

For the first time since August, a Carroll County resident not living in a long-term care facility has died of COVID-19, the Carroll County Health Department announced Wednesday.

The most recent time a fatality attributed to COVID-19 was reported in the county was on Sept. 28, when two coronavirus-related deaths from congregate living facilities were reported. Those facilities, which include nursing homes, group homes and correctional facilities, account for 130 of 148 Carroll’s deaths from the virus.

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The most recent COVID-19 fatality reported from outside of congregate living facilities was announced Aug. 24.

Also on Wednesday the health department announced 10 new cases among the community outside congregate living facilities, along with one staffer case from a facility with fewer than 10 residents. The health department does not name such facilities.

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A health department spokesperson also said one previously reported community case was reclassified as a staffer case originating from a facility with fewer than 10 residents.

There have been 29 cases among the wider Carroll community so far this week, from Sunday through Wednesday. There were 68 cases last week and 63 the week before that. These weekly totals have climbed since the week of Sept. 20, which saw 45 cases — the lowest weekly level since there were 37 the week of Aug. 23.

This week is on pace to finish with a total close to last week’s. At this point last week, 31 cases had been reported for the week.

This recent uptick is relevant to Carroll County Public Schools discussions about reopening school buildings to students under a hybrid model — half of students on Mondays and Tuesday, the other half on Thursdays and Fridays, starting Oct. 19.

Carroll County’s weekly COVID-19 total has, for the sixth week in a row, exceeded the maximum level that the health department wants to see in order to avoid “higher risk” for virus transmission when school buildings reopen. Based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, Carroll County remains in the “high risk” level of COVID-19 being spread within school buildings and would need to stay below a weekly rate of 42 total cases in order to lower that risk level to “moderate,” according to the health department.

The 42-case maximum recommended by the health department includes cases that originate from congregate living facilities, but there have been few in recent weeks.

Carroll County would only cross over into the CDC’s category for “highest risk” of transmission in schools if it were to reach a weekly rate of 169 cases countywide, a health department spokesperson said.

Carroll’s positivity rate, reported as a seven-day rolling average, stayed essentially flat, at 1.98% as of Tuesday. The statewide rate that Maryland reports climbed above 3%, to 3.09%.

The health department reported four more probable cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, bringing the current total to 83. These “probable” cases stem from Carroll countians who tested positive using a rapid antigen test, rather than a molecular test like those offered at state-run testing sites. The department doesn’t consider these results to be confirmed cases.

To date, 1,296 Carroll countians have been released from isolation, an increase of 12 since Tuesday. The number of community members who have been hospitalized for COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic remained at 127.

McDaniel College has seen 16 members of its campus community test positive out of a total of 2,266 tests that have been conducted since Aug. 14.

Of the 1,416 community members to test positive in Carroll, 27 are younger than 10 years old; 184 are in the 10-19 range; 308 are 20-29 years old; 172 are 30-39; 205 are 40-49; 277 are 50-59; 152 are 60-69; 54 are 70-79; 35 are 80-89; and two are in their 90s. Women have accounted for 730 of the positive tests, and men 686.

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According to health department data, Carroll has now seen 2,102 total cases. Westminster has seen the most with 705 across two ZIP codes, followed by Sykesville/Eldersburg with 545, Mount Airy with 261, Manchester with 142, Hampstead with 101, Finksburg with 100, Taneytown with 79, New Windsor with 44, Marriottsville with 36, Keymar and Woodbine with 30 each, and Union Bridge with 19. 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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