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Carroll County sees lowest daily COVID-19 case total since Sept. 22, but database issue could be a factor

The Carroll County Health Department announced only four new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, the lowest number reported since Sept. 22, when three were reported.

However, the low Friday total could be due, at least in part, to the fact that the department’s main database for case information was “down for a significant part of the day,” health department spokesperson Rachel Turner said in an email.

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All four cases were among members of the community outside congregate living facilities such as nursing homes, bringing this week’s community case total, from Sunday through Friday, to 46. One case previously announced as having been reported for this week was moved, upon further data reconciliation, to the week of Sept. 20, Turner said. The week’s total now stands at 45.

For the sixth week in a row, Carroll County’s weekly total has exceeded the maximum level that the health department wants to see in order to avoid “higher risk” for virus transmission when school buildings reopen (with one day of cases still pending for this week). 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.

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Carroll County Pubic Schools plans to reopen school buildings under a hybrid instruction model — half of students on Mondays and Tuesday, the other half on Thursdays and Fridays — on Oct. 19.

The 42-case maximum recommended by the health department includes cases that originate from congregate living facilities, but there have only been six since Sept. 1. Congregate living facilities accounted for most cases in the first weeks after the pandemic struck in March but have seen few in recent weeks. But those facilities, which include nursing homes, group homes and correctional facilities, still account for most of Carroll’s deaths from the virus — 130 of 147.

Carroll’s positivity rate, reported as a seven-day rolling average, dropped to 1.70% through Thursday. The statewide rate that Maryland reports was 2.87%.

The health department reported one more probable cases of COVID-19, bringing that number to 77. 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, 1,227 Carroll countians have been released from isolation, an increase of two since Thursday. The number of community members who have been hospitalized for COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic remained at 127.

McDaniel College again had no new cases among members of the campus community to add to the 15 positive results that have been reported out of 2,171 total tests conducted since Aug. 14.

Of the 1,364 community members to test positive in Carroll, 27 are younger than 10 years old; 177 are in the 10-19 range; 300 are 20-29 years old; 165 are 30-39; 200 are 40-49; 269 are 50-59; 144 are 60-69; 46 are 70-79; 34 are 80-89; and two are in their 90s. Women have accounted for 705 of the positive tests, and men 659.

According to health department data, Carroll has now seen 2,047 total cases. Westminster has seen the most with 679 across two ZIP codes, followed by Sykesville/Eldersburg with 535, Mount Airy with 258, Manchester with 141, Hampstead with 100, Finksburg with 94, Taneytown with 76, New Windsor with 44, Marriottsville with 35, Keymar with 30, Woodbine with 27 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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