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No new COVID-19 cases reported in Carroll County congregate living facilities this week

As Carroll County’s COVID-19 positivity and case rates dipped to their lowest points since early November, the number of cases in congregate living facilities also continued its steep decline with no new cases reported this week.

COVID-19 cases in Carroll County’s congregate living facilities, such as nursing homes, spiked early in the coronavirus pandemic, nearly disappeared in the summer and then returned in large numbers in early fall. In all, 1,188 cases of COVID-19 in Carroll have been residents or staff members of such facilities. Nearly 500 of those have tested positive since the beginning of November after only 24 new cases were reported from August through October.

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Through Thursday, however, the Carroll County Health Department has reported no new facilities cases for this week. That comes after six cases were reported last week, 20 the week before that and 35 the week of Jan. 24. This mirrors the overall decline in the county and throughout most of the country, but zero cases reported in five days remains significant.

The health department closed six outbreaks at congregate living facilities on Wednesday and lists six active outbreaks at elder care facilities and one at a correctional facility on its website. Seventeen such facilities had active cases at the beginning of February.

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While the death rate has slowed, COVID-19 remains far more dangerous to older people. Residents of Carroll congregate living facilities account for 167 of 219 overall coronavirus deaths and 194 of the Carroll countians who’ve died of COVID-19 were 65 years old or older.

New cases

The health department reported 40 new COVID-19 cases, all among community members, bringing the number of total cases this week to 75, down from the 121 that had been reported through Thursday a week ago.

The total for last week was adjusted to 169 cases, down from 208 the previous week. There were 308 cases the week of Jan. 24, 309 the week of Jan. 17 and 389 the week of Jan. 10, which followed the record-high 518 cases reported the week of Jan. 3. Last week marked the first time since the first week of November that Carroll County reported fewer than 200 cases.

Carroll’s seven-day testing positivity rate, which measures the percentage of tests that return positive results, dropped to 3.86%, its lowest point since Nov. 6.

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The case rate per 100,000 residents in Carroll County, also reported as a seven-day rolling average, dropped by nearly 2 percentage points to 9.24%, its lowest point since Nov. 5 and less than one-fifth of the rate (47.58) reported on Jan. 11.

Vaccine distribution

The county health department clinic that had been set for Thursday had to be canceled because of the snowstorm. A clinic was held for Carroll County Public Schools employees on Wednesday. The health department reports having 1,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to administer this week. Through last week, the health department had administered 7,647 total first doses. Additionally, elder care facility residents are being vaccinated by pharmacies and health care facilities, and many health care workers have been vaccinated at their place of work.

Carroll remains in Phase 1B of the state’s vaccine distribution plan, which means residents who are at least 75 years old and educators are eligible to be vaccinated by the health department. The health department is asking residents who want to receive the vaccine to complete interest forms for their phase of vaccination. These forms can be found online at cchd.maryland.gov/covid-19-interest-forms. More information on COVID-19 vaccinations in Carroll County can be found on the health department’s page at cchd.maryland.gov/covid-19-vaccination.

Around the state

Maryland health officials reported 986 new cases of the coronavirus Thursday, and 30 more deaths caused by the virus. The number of new daily cases has declined significantly since mid-January, when the state was averaging more than 3,000 new cases each day after the holidays. The daily total has been below 1,000 since Sunday. The state’s seven-day average of new cases reported daily per 100,000 people also has declined fairly steadily, to 14.42, from a peak over 50.

Winter storms sweeping across the country already have impacted vaccine shipments and could affect Maryland’s allocations to counties. The state is directing the largest share of doses to its two mass vaccination sites — a combined 16,000 doses every week to sites at the Six Flags America in Bowie and the Baltimore Convention Center.

Community cases

Carroll has reported 6,092 cases of community members who have tested positive, 3,158 women and 2,934 men. By age range:

0-9: 229

10-19: 698

20-29: 1,075

30-39: 859

40-49: 826

50-59: 1,151

60-69: 732

70-79: 356

80-89: 142

90-99: 24

Total cases

Carroll has reported 7,280 total COVID-19 cases. The numbers by ZIP code were not updated Thursday, but as of Wednesday they were:

21784 (Eldersburg/Sykesville): 1,783

21157 (Westminster): 1,634

21158 (Westminster): 886

21771 (Mount Airy): 584

21074 (Hampstead): 522

21102 (Manchester): 464

21784 (Taneytown): 441

21048 (Finksburg): 362

21776 (New Windsor): 186

21797 (Woodbine): 120

21104 (Marriottsville): 99

21791 (Union Bridge): 88

21757 (Keymar): 59

Probable cases

In addition to the confirmed cases, Carroll also had 12 new probable cases, making a total of 2,020 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.

Hospitalizations

The health department reported no new hospitalizations of Carroll countians for COVID-19. The number of community members who have been hospitalized for the virus remained at 405.

Through Feb. 16, according to Carroll Hospital, 24 patients were hospitalized for COVID-19 and six patients were under investigation for the virus. Additionally, seven critical care unit beds were in use and the total patient census was 143 (out of an approximate capacity of 170). Five weeks ago, the hospital had 42 patients who were COVID-19 positive and 18 under investigation. At that point, the hospital was seeing 12-14 critical care unit beds in use each day and as many as 169 total patients, causing health officials to express concern about hospital resources.

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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Sun reporter Christine Condon contributed to this report.

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