Carroll County Health Department data show that the county ended September with more COVID-19 cases than in August and that the current week’s case count has exceeded the week before for the first time in about a month.
The monthly case totals have fluctuated after hitting a peak in May with 496, plummeting to 195 in June, then rising to 308 in July, dropping to 236 in August and rising again, to 280, in September, according to the health department’s data as of Oct. 2. Deaths attributed to the virus, though, have dropped steadily since May, when there were 57; in September, there were two.
Maryland as a whole, meanwhile, ended September with fewer new cases of the coronavirus and deaths from it than reported in August — 16,476 infections and 193 deaths in September, compared with 19,903 cases and 250 deaths in August — though the state also performed fewer tests. The month was the first when the number of tests reported declined from the previous month — from more than 723,000 tests in August to about 669,000 in September.
The Carroll County Health Department also reported Friday that this week is ending with an increase over the last, with nine more COVID-19 cases confirmed. All of the new cases were among community members living outside of congregate living facilities, such as nursing homes, which accounted for most cases in the first weeks after the pandemic struck — as well as 130 of 147 deaths from the virus to date.
The week has thus far seen 47 cases among community members, with more likely to be added from Saturday and late Friday. That outpaces last week’s 45, meaning the first week-over-week increase since the week of Aug. 30, which had 88 cases after the prior week had 37. Weekly totals declined since then, first to 74 the week of Sept. 6, then 54 the next week and finally 45 last week.
As the county enters October and approaches Carroll County Public Schools’ target date of Oct. 19 to switch to a partly in-person model, county case totals are moving in the opposite direction from the rate of new cases that the health department is targeting in order to safely reopen school buildings.
That target is a maximum of 84 cases over a 14-day period, for a weekly rate of 42 cases, in order for there to be a “moderate” risk of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, being transmitted in schools. That rate, calculated based on recent guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, would include cases originating from congregate living facilities, though only five such cases were announced in September.
The most recent week when Carroll’s community case total was below 42 — without counting congregate living facility cases — was the week of Aug. 23, health department data show.
Carroll’s positivity rate rose for the fourth straight day, to 1.96% through Thursday. The rate, reported as a seven-day rolling average, has been below 2% since Sept. 18. The statewide rate that Maryland reports rose slightly, to 2.93%.
To date, 1,143 Carroll countians have been released from isolation, an increase of eight since Thursday. The total of community members who have been hospitalized for COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic was flat at 124.
McDaniel College has reported 15 positive results among members of the campus community, out of 2,017 total tests since Aug. 14.
Of the 1,303 community members to test positive in Carroll, 25 are younger than 10 years old; 164 are in the 10-19 range; 290 are 20-29 years old; 158 are 30-39; 184 are 40-49; 260 are 50-59; 141 are 60-69; 45 are 70-79; 34 are 80-89; and two are in their 90s. Women have accounted for 674 of the positive tests, and men 629.
According to health department data, Carroll has seen 1,976 total cases countywide. Westminster has the most, with 665 across two ZIP codes, followed by Sykesville/Eldersburg with 525, Mount Airy with 246, Manchester with 140, Hampstead with 93, Finksburg with 91, Taneytown with 72, New Windsor with 42, Marriottsville with 34, Keymar with 28, Woodbine with 23 and Union Bridge with 18. 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.
Baltimore Sun reporter Nathan Ruiz contributed to this article.