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Carroll County to follow governor’s ‘step in the right direction’; 39 new COVID cases reported

The Carroll County Board of Commissioners noted during Thursday’s open session that the county will endorse Gov. Larry Hogan’s April 28 executive order about mask wearing, continuing a policy of following state guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The order lifts the outdoor mask mandate in Maryland and removes all restrictions for outdoor dining. Face coverings are still required indoors at all public and private businesses and when using public transportation, according to a Carroll County government news release.

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The commissioners cautioned residents to stay vigilant with health and safety protocols and noted that Marylanders not yet vaccinated are strongly encouraged to continue wearing masks outdoors, especially when physical distancing is not possible.

“We appreciate our Governor’s continued guidance and direction along with the administration’s support,” Commissioner President Ed Rothstein, R-District 5, said via the release. “We voted in September to follow Governor Hogan’s COVID-19 related Executive Orders unless it is decided otherwise. This new guidance that pertains to small gatherings allows us to recognize the importance in moving to a state of ‘normalcy,’ however, we must continue to stay vigilant and guarded about all our activities with regard to this virus.

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“This is a step in the right direction, but we still have a way to go. When appropriate, wearing the mask, keeping socially distanced, and washing our hands remain good practices to be both courteous and responsible.”

New cases

The Carroll County Health Department reported 39 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday afternoon and announced that Copper Ridge no longer has an active outbreak.

Carroll has seen 104 cases this week, all community cases. That’s up from the 85 new cases at the same point last week, when Carroll finished with what has been adjusted up to 147 cases for a third consecutive weekly decline. Health department data shows 190 cases the week of April 11, 228 the week of April 4, and 229 the week of March 28, which was the highest number since mid-January.

Carroll’s testing positivity rate, which measures the percentage of tests that returned positive results over the past seven days, dropped to 4.75%. The World Health Organization recommends jurisdictions report a positivity rate below 5% for two weeks before easing coronavirus restrictions. Carroll’s rate has been over 5% once since April 17.

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Carroll’s case rate per 100,000 people per day, reported as an average over the past seven days, dropped to 12.89. The rate had been as low as 7.46 in early March after peaking at 47.58 on Jan. 11.

Around the state

With 966 new infections Thursday, Maryland has now recorded 446,459 coronavirus cases since health officials began to track the pandemic in March 2020, according to the health department data. Maryland has recorded fewer than 1,000 cases four of the last seven days but has averaged 1,047 cases daily for the last two weeks. The 14-day average is about 300 cases lower than when it hit a spring high April 17 and down from a pandemic peak of 2,949 Jan. 12, during a winter surge of the virus.

A day after Maryland’s average testing positivity rate dropped below 4%, it continued to decline. The rate, which measures the average number of tests returned positive over the last week, was 3.77% Wednesday, down 0.12 percentage points compared to the day before. That’s the lowest the rate has been since March 13.

Vaccine

Thursday marked the Carroll County Health Department’s final vaccine clinic at the Westminster Senior and Community Center. Carroll’s senior centers are reopening to the public after being closed for more than 13 months.

The health department is listing upcoming vaccination clinics on its website with links to register. Clinics are posted for May 6-7 at TownMall of Westminster from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The May 6 clinic will have the Moderna vaccine; May 7 is Johnson & Johnson. Appointments can be made by visiting cchd.maryland.gov/registration-links. Those over 65 or in need of assistance to register are asked to call 410-876-4848.

The state of Maryland is in Phase 3 of vaccine eligibility, meaning anyone 16 and over can sign up and receive the vaccine. All Marylanders 16 and older can register for an appointment at a mass vaccination site by going to covidvax.maryland.gov or calling 1-855-MD-GOVAX (1-855-634-6829).

Community cases

Carroll has reported 7,782 cases of community members who have tested positive — 3,990 women and 3,790 men. Age group data:

0-9: 343

10-19: 940

20-29: 1,365

30-39: 1,084

40-49: 1,042

50-59: 1,437

60-69: 927

70-79: 449

80-89: 167

90-99: 28

Total cases

Carroll has reported 9,013 total COVID-19 cases. ZIP code data (those with fewer than seven cases are not listed):

21784 (Eldersburg/Sykesville): 2,217

21157 (Westminster): 2,011

21158 (Westminster): 1,116

21771 (Mount Airy): 690

21074 (Hampstead): 651

21787 (Taneytown): 567

21102 (Manchester): 566

21048 (Finksburg): 466

21776 (New Windsor): 243

21797 (Woodbine): 160

21104 (Marriottsville): 137

21791 (Union Bridge): 107

21757 (Keymar): 67

Probable cases

The health department reported 17 new probable cases, meaning Carroll has seen 3,052 probable cases 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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