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9 more contract COVID-19 in Carroll County; McDaniel College lowers alert level

Another nine Carroll County residents, including one in a nursing facility, have tested positive for COVID-19 as of Wednesday, the same day McDaniel College announced it has seen a low enough case total that it’s now at its lowest alert level.

The Carroll County Health Department reported that one more resident of Fairhaven in Sykesville contracted the virus, bringing its case total among residents to 51. Fourteen of them have died, and 33 staffers (10 of them Carroll residents) have also contracted COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

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The other eight cases announced Wednesday were among community members living outside of what the health department defines as congregate living facilities, including nursing homes.

Although congregate living facilities still account for 127 of the 144 county deaths attributed to the coronavirus, they have been the source of few new cases in recent months. Six have been added in September so far. Cases among the wider community have been more volatile the past few months.

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So far this week, there have been 31 community cases. Last week, there were 74 — down from 88 the previous week but higher than each of the four weeks before that one.

McDaniel College has reported 10 positive COVID-19 tests among its campus population, from a total of 1,674 tests administered as of Wednesday, leading the Westminster college to announce Wednesday it’s moving to a “green” alert status. That means, according to the college website, that “campus health and safety protocols are working effectively and our community is doing a good job minimizing risk.”

However, an email sent to the campus community stressed that the new alert status — now lowered from the “yellow” level — doesn’t mean social distancing and other steps to minimize risk of spreading the virus can be forgotten. “Rather, it means just the opposite; that our protocols are working effectively and we must remain committed to them,” the email states. “Staying vigilant is the key to our continued success.” The statement does acknowledge that more cases will likely be confirmed.

The announcement also states that athletics teams have submitted safety plans that, if approved by the Return to the Hill Committee, could mean organized activities could resume.

County Health Officer Ed Singer said Monday, “I’ve been really happy with McDaniel. They’ve been able to manage it while some other colleges let it get out of control.”

According to health department data, countywide, Carroll has seen 1,870 total cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday.

Carroll’s positivity rate, the rate at which tests of county residents return positive reported as a seven-day rolling average, dipped to 2.31% as of Tuesday. Maryland reported the statewide rate as 3.44%.

The health department reported that 1,025 Carroll countians have been released from isolation, an increase of seven since Tuesday. The number of community members who have been hospitalized remained at 117.

Of the 1,187 community members to test positive in Carroll, 23 are younger than 10 years old; 142 are in the 10-19 range; 265 are 20-29 years old; 144 are 30-39; 172 are 40-49; 243 are 50-59; 125 are 60-69; 42 are 70-79; 30 are 80-89; and one is in their 90s. Women have accounted for 617 of the positive tests, and men 570.

Westminster has the most total cases, with 629 across two ZIP codes, followed by Sykesville/Eldersburg with 497, Mount Airy with 229, Manchester with 139, Hampstead with 86, Finksburg with 82, Taneytown with 65, New Windsor with 40, Marriottsville with 29, Keymar with 28, Woodbine with 22 and Union Bridge with 17. 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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