Howard County reports record 99 new daily coronavirus cases, most hospitalizations since May

Howard County on Tuesday reported its highest number of daily positive coronavirus cases since the pandemic began in March.

The county recorded 99 new cases on Monday, according to the Howard County Health Department’s website. The previous high, according to county data, was 84 positive cases on May 27.


The record in daily cases comes amid a coronavirus surge across the country and state. Howard County has reported more than 50 coronavirus cases for nine straight days. Before this recent increase, the county didn’t record a single day of more than 50 cases from Aug. 7 to Nov. 4.

Howard County Executive Calvin Ball wrote in a statement Tuesday that he is “concerned” about the rising case counts, adding that Howard County is “trending in the wrong direction.”


“I am confident that our residents and businesses are equally alarmed by the rapid growth of cases and are adhering to both the county and state’s restrictions, advisories and guidance during this pivotal time to protect themselves, their families, their employees and their customers from getting ill,” Ball wrote. “This is an urgent time that we must unite, adhere and assist one another to stop the spread.”

The rise in cases has also led to an increase in several other metrics that public health officials often cite. As of Monday, the seven-day rolling average new-case rate is at a record 20.4 per 100,000, the first time the county has gone above 20 since the beginning of the pandemic.

The county has seen an increase in the weekly average case rate in 13 of the last 14 days, seeing that number go from 9.6 per 100,000 on Nov. 3 to 20.4 on Monday.

Another key metric is the seven-day positivity rate in Howard County, which measures the percent at which tests return positive over a week. The county’s weekly positivity rate is currently 5.02%, the first time the county has been over 5% since June. A month ago, the county’s weekly positivity rate was just 2.47%.

The daily positivity rate on Monday was 7.56%, the highest in the county since June 7.

In addition to worsening metrics is an increase in coronavirus-related hospitalizations. As of Monday, 37 coronavirus patients — including 12 in intensive care — are being treated at Howard County General Hospital, which is the highest number for the hospital since late May. Twelve patients in the ICU is the most since early June.

According to the county’s website, the hospital’s intensive care unit utilization is 77% with seven available beds.

While the metrics in Howard County are worsening, the statewide and national metrics are worse. As of Monday, the statewide weekly rolling case-rate is 29.03 per 100,000 and the positivity rate is 6.85%, according to the Maryland Department of Health. Nationally, coronavirus metrics are worsening in 45 states, according to data from Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus resource center. The nationwide weekly positivity rate has reached 10%, the highest mark since early May.

“I am alarmed by the state’s dramatic increase in COVID[-19] cases and rates of infections,” Ball wrote Tuesday. “As the recent spike in cases poses a threat to our hospital capacity, we look forward to continued dialogue with the state and governor on addressing this critical issue.”

In the last week, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Ball have both increased restrictions due to the increase in cases. Last week, Hogan tightened restrictions on restaurants, including rolling back capacity from 75% to 50% for indoor dining, and discouraged large family gatherings as Thanksgiving approaches. Then on Tuesday, the Republican governor ordered an early closing time for bars and set new limits on visitation to hospitals and nursing homes, while also rolling back capacity at retail businesses and religious institutions to 50%.

Ball, meanwhile, on Monday also instituted a restriction to prohibit indoor gatherings of more than 10 people and outdoor gatherings of more than 25 people.

The increase in cases isn’t only impacting local businesses, though.


In the last few days, the Howard County Public School System has made several changes. The school system sent out a news release Friday that announced the cancellation of high school athletics conditioning, which was supposed to begin Monday and was the symbolic first step of a potential return to sports.

On Monday, schools Superintendent Michael Martirano announced the suspension, to go into effect Thursday, of the district’s small group, in-person support programs at 26 schools. School system officials are expected to reevaluate the county’s health metrics Nov. 30 to decide whether to resume the in-person programs Dec. 3.

Later Monday night, the Howard County Board of Education then voted against the school system’s proposed hybrid reopening plan and decided to stay in a virtual learning model through mid-April. The series of votes were not expected during the work session.

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