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Carroll County focuses on vaccinating Hispanic community; COVID-19 positivity, case rates drop

With the total number of COVID-19 cases trending down for a second week in a row in Carroll and the county’s positivity rate under 5% for the first time in more than three weeks, the health department is focusing on vaccine equity.

According to Carroll County Health Department data, more than 39% of Carroll County’s total population has received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccination rate among citizens 65 and older is 80%, with that number climbing to 86% among Black county residents in that age group.

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But vaccinations among members of the Hispanic community continues to lag, with only a 48% rate among those 65 and older. Health Planner Maggie Kunz told the Board of County Commissioners during open session Thursday that the health department is trying to increase those numbers.

“We’ve been talking about doing outreach and we were able to work with St. John’s to schedule a clinic for the Hispanic community on Sunday, April 25,” she said. “We’re working with community partners and local churches to fill that clinic with people who speak Spanish, hoping we will have a lot of resources available in Spanish and registration available in Spanish to help that population access vaccination.”

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According to Kunz, no registration links are currently available for health department clinics due to reduced vaccine allocation this week and the pause in the use of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Still, more than 65,000 Carroll residents have received at least one dose.

“We’re reaching more and more people, vaccinating even the healthy adults 16-64, so that’s exciting,” she said.

People are asked to watch the health department vaccination webpage for links, or to call 410-876-4848 if they are older than 65 or need assistance to register.

Maryland is in Phase 3, which means everyone 16 and older is eligible to get the vaccine. All Marylanders 16 and older can preregister for an appointment at a mass vaccination site by going to covidvax.maryland.gov or calling 1-855-MD-GOVAX (1-855-634-6829). During preregistration, Marylanders can choose their top two preferred sites.

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New cases

The health department reported 25 new COVID-19 cases Friday afternoon, all community cases.

Carroll County has seen 143 cases this week, well below the 188 reported through the same period last week when the county finished with 227 cases after 229 the previous week. Before that, the last time the county saw a weekly drop was the week of Feb. 21, the final of seven consecutive weeks of declining numbers following the post-holiday peak.

Carroll’s testing positivity rate, which measures the percentage of tests that returned positive results over the past seven days, dropped to 4.98%. That’s the first time since March 22 that rate has fallen below 5%, the threshold the World Health Organization recommends jurisdictions stay below before lifting restrictions.

Carroll’s case rate per 100,000 people per day, reported as an average over the past seven days, dropped to 18.15. The rate had been as low as 7.46 in early March after peaking at 47.58 on Jan. 11.

Fatalities

The health department reported Friday that a community member over 65 years old has died of COVID-19. On Thursday, two deaths were reported, making this the fourth week in a row Carroll has suffered multiple deaths attributed to the coronavirus.

After the health department reported two deaths for the three-week period beginning Feb. 28, two Carroll residents died the week of March 21, four died the following week, two died the week of April 4 and three have died so far this week.

Throughout the pandemic, 238 county residents have died from COVID-19 — 66 community members and 172 congregate living facility residents. Of those, 212 have been 65 and older, 24 were 45-64 and two were 18-44.

Around the state

With 1,564 new coronavirus infections, Maryland’s pandemic case count now stands at 433,359, according to the state health department data. For the week ending Thursday, the state averaged 22.91 cases a day per 100,000 people, up from 12.33 for the week ending March 6.

More than 1.5 million Marylanders have now been fully inoculated against the coronavirus, either by completing a two-dose vaccine regimen or a single-shot immunization, state health officials reported. About 2.2 million have received at least one vaccine dose.

Community cases

Carroll has reported 7,484 cases of community members who have tested positive — 3,838 women and 3,646 men. Age group data:

0-9: 308

10-19: 893

20-29: 1,315

30-39: 1,046

40-49: 1,002

50-59: 1,391

60-69: 906

70-79: 431

80-89: 167

90-99: 25

Total cases

Carroll has reported 8,711 total COVID-19 cases. ZIP code data (those with fewer than seven cases are not listed):

21784 (Eldersburg/Sykesville): 2,163

21157 (Westminster): 1,944

21158 (Westminster): 1,068

21771 (Mount Airy): 678

21074 (Hampstead): 628

21102 (Manchester): 548

21787 (Taneytown): 520

21048 (Finksburg): 454

21776 (New Windsor): 240

21797 (Woodbine): 156

21104 (Marriottsville): 128

21791 (Union Bridge): 105

21757 (Keymar): 66

Probable cases

In addition to the confirmed cases, Carroll also reported 25 new probable cases, making a total of 2,971 probables since the beginning of the pandemic. These are patients who test positive using a rapid antigen test, rather than a molecular test like those offered at state-run testing sites. The health department doesn’t consider these results to be confirmed cases.

Baltimore Sun reporter Alex Mann contributed to this article.

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