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Carroll County sees 8 new community cases of COVID-19, trending down from last week’s ‘spike’

The Carroll County Health Department reported eight new COVID-19 community cases Thursday.

That means Carroll has seen 37 cases this week among community members outside of congregate living facilities, such as nursing homes and group homes. That is trending lower than the 88 community cases from last week, but higher than the previous two weeks, which have been adjusted based on new data to 37 and 39.

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But some other data has been improving. Carroll Health Officer Ed Singer and Carroll Hospital President Garrett Hoover spoke Wednesday night during the Carroll County Public Schools Board of Education meeting.

Singer noted that COVID-19 deaths have been quite low for the past two months or so. According to health department figures, after Carroll saw 127 deaths during the first three months of the pandemic, that number dropped to 13 in July and four in August. No COVID-19 deaths have been reported in September.

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Hoover shared with the board that the hospital has seen, on a rolling average, six beds in the hospital’s 12-bed critical care unit in use over the past month, a manageable number after, at times, seeing the unit “overflowing” with patients in the spring.

“As of today, we have no COVID-positive patients in our critical care unit,” Hoover said Wednesday.

Singer told the board that 44 of last week’s 88 positive tests were people in the 18-29 age range. He speculated that perhaps those in that age rage are not being as vigilant with social distancing and are getting together more frequently, but he said he couldn’t explain last week’s increase in cases.

“It doesn’t make me very happy to come to this meeting and say we’ve been moving in the right direction the past month and last week we hit a spike,” he said, noting he hoped that fewer large gatherings and people getting into a routine now that school is back in session could help case numbers to go down again. “Right now we’re not in the greatest of spots, but who knows where we’re going to be two weeks from now?”

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Added Hoover: “I think the county has done a pretty good job up to this point, but I am fearful we could see a resurgence if we become complacent.”

Cases in Carroll’s congregate living facilities, including nursing homes and group homes, remained at 678. These facilities account for most of the county’s deaths attributed to COVID-19 — 127 of 144 — but few cases have originated from them in the past couple of months.

According to health department data, Carroll has seen 1,797 total cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Carroll’s positivity rate, the rate at which tests of county residents return positive reported as a seven-day rolling average, is 2.86% as of Wednesday. The rate, which is based on data from the Maryland Department of Health, was 2.95% Saturday, the highest it has been since Aug. 2. Maryland reports the statewide rate as of Wednesday is 3.71%.

As of Thursday, 942 COVID-19 patients have been released from isolation, up by 11 from Wednesday, according to the health department. A total of 113 community members have been hospitalized with the disease, an increase of one over Wednesday.

McDaniel College in Westminster has had eight confirmed COVID-19 tests among its campus population, two of which have been over the past seven days. A total of 1,444 tests have been administered.

Of the 1,119 community members to test positive in Carroll, 22 are younger than 10 years old; 130 are in the 10-19 range; 241 are 20-29 years old; 137 are 30-39; 165 are 40-49; 232 are 50-59; 121 are 60-69; 40 are 70-79; 30 are 80-89; and one is in their 90s. Women have accounted for 578 of the positive tests, and men 540.

Westminster has the most reported cases, with 604 across two ZIP codes, followed by Sykesville/Eldersburg with 481, Mount Airy with 222, Manchester with 132, Hampstead with 80, Finksburg with 78, Taneytown with 64, New Windsor with 39, Keymar and Marriottsville with 28 each, Woodbine with 18 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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