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Carroll County no longer in ‘high’ COVID transmission category; one death reported

While a key COVID-19 metric dropping into a lower-risk category for Carroll County, a death attributed to the virus was reported Friday afternoon.

The Carroll County Health Department announced the COVID-19 death of a community member older than 65 that occurred on Monday. It was the first fatality attributed to the coronavirus this week after two were reported the previous week and five the week before that. Carroll has suffered 243 COVID-19 deaths, 142 congregate living facility residents and 71 members of the wider community.

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The day before, Health Officer Ed Singer shared some more encouraging numbers with the Board of County Commissioners.

Carroll’s number of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents per week dropped to 87.2, according to Singer, which dropped Carroll out of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “high” level of community transmission. That level indicates more than 100 cases per 100,000 per week. Carroll dropped to “substantial,” which is 50 to 99 cases per 100,000 per week. The next milestone would be getting to moderate (10-49).

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“Cases still seem to be trending downward,” Singer said during Thursday’s open session.

He noted that Carroll’s positivity rate has essentially plateaued recently, but said he was more interested in the fact that confirmed and probable cases dropped below 200 last week for the first time in months. “Cases per 100,000 is more critical to me than the positive rate and I’ve been saying that throughout this pandemic,” he told the commissioners.

Singer also said he agreed with the CDC and state guidance eliminating the need for masks in most cases while outdoors.

“We’ve not seen a lot of outbreaks outside. The emphasis is to increase airflow inside,” he said. “We knew we were going to get to this point at some point. Glad to see we’re moving in the right direction.”

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New cases

The Carroll County Health Department reported 18 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday afternoon.

After data reconciliation by the health department, Carroll has seen 129 cases this week, all community cases. That’s about the same as the 125 new cases at the same point last week, when Carroll finished with what has been adjusted to 146 cases for a third consecutive weekly decline. Health department data shows 191 cases the week of April 11, 227 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, rose slightly to 4.86%. 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% one day since April 17.

Carroll’s case rate per 100,000 people per day, reported as an average over the past seven days, dropped to 12.38. The rate had been as low as 7.46 in early March after peaking at 47.58 on Jan. 11.

Around the state

The state reported 942 new coronavirus infections Friday, bringing to 447,401 the case count since health officials began to track the pandemic in March 2020. The state has averaged 1,003 new infections over the past two weeks, the lowest rate since March 27. Twenty-five more Marylanders died from COVID-19. The respiratory disease has claimed 8,555 casualties in the state throughout the pandemic.

About 1.98 million people have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus in Maryland, where more than 2.6 million have received at least one dose of vaccine.

Vaccine

The Carroll County Health Department is listing upcoming vaccination clinics on its website with links to register. Clinics are posted for May 6 and 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 going to cchd.maryland.gov/registration-links. Those older than 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 older 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 7,798 cases of community members who have tested positive — 3,999 women and 3,799 men. Age group data:

0-9: 345

10-19: 944

20-29: 1,370

30-39: 1,085

40-49: 1,042

50-59: 1,438

60-69: 927

70-79: 451

80-89: 168

90-99: 28

Total cases

Carroll has reported 9,029 total COVID-19 cases. ZIP code data was unavailable Friday afternoon through the health department website.

Probable cases

The health department reported a net reduction of 16 probable cases, likely meaning that they were confirmed with a molecular test. Carroll has seen 3,036 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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