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Carroll County sees fourth COVID-19 death in a week, testing capacity increases

As testing ramps up in Carroll County and another 56 new cases of COVID-19 were reported, the fourth death in a week attributed to the coronavirus was announced by the Carroll County Health Department.

The four deaths equal the number of coronavirus-related fatalities in October in Carroll County, which saw only one death from COVID-19 through the first 12 days in November. Since Nov. 13, two residents of congregate living facilities and two members of the wider community have died.

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Health department spokesperson Maggie Kunz told the county commissioners Thursday morning at their weekly meeting that testing capacity at the Carroll County Agriculture Center site has been increased to meet demand as case numbers have spiked to previously unseen levels and Carroll Hospital is reporting more COVID-19 patients.

“Just like everywhere else in the country, a peak in cases is followed by a peak in hospitalizations and a peak in deaths,” Kunz said.

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On Tuesday, more nurses and another lane for drive-thru testing was added at the Ag Center, expanding the potential to test from 150 per day to 250 per day.

“We are hoping to be able to test more people as we iron out the kinks of adding a third lane,” Richard Brace, testing site coordinator, wrote in an email.

According to data provided by the health department, the number of people tested at the Ag Center the week beginning Oct. 18 was 242. That increased to 329 the following week. For the week of Nov. 1, 345 were tested and last week the total jumped to 429.

This week, 480 people have received tests: 128 on Sunday, 171 on Tuesday and 181 on Thursday. The testing site is open every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to noon by appointment only. Registration is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 7 to 10 p.m. daily on the health department website.

Kunz said the increased demand may mean it takes slightly longer to get an appointment and that it may take two to three days to receive results.

A sign advises the appointment-only nature of the drive-up COVID-19 testing site at the Carroll County Agriculture Center in Westminster. On Tuesday, a third testing lane was added, increasing capacity for tests from 150 per day to 250.
A sign advises the appointment-only nature of the drive-up COVID-19 testing site at the Carroll County Agriculture Center in Westminster. On Tuesday, a third testing lane was added, increasing capacity for tests from 150 per day to 250. (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times)

She also told the commissioners that Carroll Hospital is averaging about 15 COVID-19 cases per day as well as another 15 suspected cases.

The death reported Thursday was of a resident at Carroll Lutheran Village who died Nov. 17. There have now been 156 Carroll County fatalities attributed to the coronavirus: 23 community members and 133 residents of congregate living facilities.

Four of the new cases were from congregate living facilities — one resident at Carroll Lutheran Village, one staff member at Copper Ridge (which reopened after the outbreak there), and one resident and one staff member at Springfield Hospital Center. Seven Carroll sites are experiencing current outbreaks.

There have been 727 COVID-19 cases at congregate living facilities in Carroll County, 39 this month after just 24 combined from August through October.

The remaining 52 cases were among members of the community, six of them confirmations of cases previously considered “probable.” One of the cases dated to last week, meaning there were 215 community cases for the week that began Nov. 8.

There have been 196 community cases this week — the second-highest total since the pandemic began and on pace to far surpass last week’s record — among 208 total cases. There were 232 total cases last week.

Carroll’s positivity rate, reported as a seven-day rolling average, rose to 5.82% through Wednesday, the latest available data. That’s the highest it has been since June 5, when far less testing was being done. The statewide rate is 7.19%.

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With a net decrease of one, Carroll has had 229 probable cases. The probable cases stem from Carroll countians who tested positive using a rapid antigen test, rather than a molecular test like those offered at state-run testing sites. The department doesn’t consider these results to be confirmed cases.

McDaniel College announced no new positive tests and has seen 23 members of its campus community test positive for COVID-19 out of a total of 2,998 tests conducted since Aug. 14.

Of the 2,170 community members to test positive in Carroll, 59 are younger than 10 years old; 261 are in the 10-19 range; 433 are 20-29 years old; 273 are 30-39; 306 are 40-49; 421 are 50-59; 258 are 60-69; 108 are 70-79; 47 are 80-89; and four are in their 90s. Women have accounted for 1,124 of the positive tests, men for 1,045 and data was unavailable for one case.

According to health department data, Carroll has confirmed 2,897 total cases. Westminster has seen the most with 1,012 across two ZIP codes, followed by Sykesville/Eldersburg with 719 Mount Airy with 317, Manchester with 191, Hampstead with 151, Finksburg with 146, Taneytown with 128, New Windsor with 74, Marriottsville with 46, Woodbine with 41, Keymar with 30 and Union Bridge with 28. 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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