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Carroll County in midst of highest week for new COVID-19 community cases since August

With a total of 50 new cases of COVID-19 announced in a two-day span, Carroll County has already seen more cases this week than any since the beginning of September and could be headed for its highest number of weekly transmissions yet.

The Carroll County Health Department on Thursday announced 21 new COVID-19 cases among community members outside of congregate living facilities such as nursing homes. That was one day after 29 new cases were reported, the second-highest one-day total in Carroll since July, according to Health Officer Ed Singer.

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After four weeks in which the number of community cases in Carroll ranged from 60 to 70, the county has already seen 75 new cases through Thursday. The week beginning Aug. 30 is the most recent time Carroll saw more than 70 cases in a week — there were 74. Carroll is on pace to challenge the highest week in terms of positive tests, the week of July 26, when 110 new community cases were reported.

Speaking during the weekly meeting of the Board of County Commissioners on Thursday, Singer said only time would tell if this mid-week spike is an anomaly.

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He didn’t draw any connection between Carroll County Public Schools returning on Oct. 19 to in-person learning under a hybrid model that has about two-thirds of elementary school and middle school students attending class in buildings twice a week.

“Statistically, we don’t see anything that’s related to that directly at this point,” Singer said. “We’re a week-and-a-half into this and, so far, we have not had any outbreaks, any transmission in the schools.”

Singer did mention that they are seeing statistics that back up the theory that young adults are contracting the disease and spreading it to their parents and grandparents. He noted a spike in cases among 18-29-year-olds in August and September and how that correlates to the October spike among those older than 45.

In addition to the increased number of new community cases, Singer said intensive care unit usage at Carroll Hospital is also on the rise.

“I believe they have three PUIs [persons under investigation for contracting the virus] in the ICU and one person that’s confirmed COVID in the ICU right now and a couple of those folks are on ventilators, which is never a good thing when we’re talking about this disease,” he said. “So the hospital is seeing a bit of an uptick this week.”

Singer shared with the commissioners studies from Kansas and Tennessee regarding the effectiveness of masks in limiting airborne droplet spread, comparing counties with mandatory mask requirements against counties where mask usage isn’t mandatory, and showing how infection rates and hospitalizations were down where masks were required.

Commissioner Ed Rothstein, R-District 5, thanked Singer for sharing the studies, but said they really didn’t matter because wearing masks in public places is the law in Maryland right now and people need to be following it. Singer thanked those who are “doing the right thing.”

“The science is showing this is a very important step that we can take in limiting the spread of the disease,” Singer said. “I know that not everybody likes it. I don’t like wearing a mask. It’s a little bit uncomfortable. But I think it’s something we’re going to have to get used to for a period of time.”

For the second day in a row, McDaniel College reported one new case and has now seen 19 members of its campus community test positive for COVID-19 out of a total of 2,586 tests conducted since Aug. 14.

Four new probable cases were announced, bringing that total to 118. 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. Singer said the 21 probable cases last week were the most since they began tracking data on rapid tests.

To date, 1,435 Carroll countians have been released from isolation, an increase of three since Wednesday. The number of community members who have been hospitalized for COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic remained at 133.

Carroll’s positivity rate, reported as a seven-day rolling average, rose by about half a percentage point to 2.87%, through Wednesday, the highest point it has reached since it was also 2.87% on Sept. 8. The statewide rate rose to 3.52%.

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Of the 1,587 community members to test positive in Carroll, 32 are younger than 10 years old; 195 are in the 10-19 range; 331 are 20-29 years old; 194 are 30-39; 228 are 40-49; 316 are 50-59; 184 are 60-69; 66 are 70-79; 39 are 80-89; and two are in their 90s. Women have accounted for 825 of the positive tests, and men 762.

According to health department data, Carroll has confirmed 2,275 total cases. Westminster has seen the most with 782 across two ZIP codes, followed by Sykesville/Eldersburg with 575, Mount Airy with 274, Manchester with 150, Hampstead with 114, Finksburg with 111, Taneytown with 86, New Windsor with 51, Marriottsville with 38, Woodbine with 33, Keymar with 30, and Union Bridge with 21. 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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