The Carroll County Health Department is working on a plan to provide COVID-19 booster shots.
On Tuesday, the county also reported a significant increase in the weekly coronavirus case total and six new deaths because of the virus.
The department continues to administer first and second doses of the vaccine, along with third doses for those who are immunocompromised.
Following recommendations by a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention committee and the Food and Drug Administration for health care providers to administer COVID-19 booster shots to several groups of Americans, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said state residents could begin registering for third-dose appointments immediately.
Specifically, the federal guidance outlines three populations of past Pfizer recipients to get a third dose: older adults, nursing home residents and people with underlying medical conditions.
The FDA advisory committee and CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky also agreed that people ages 18 to 64 who work in front-line jobs or live in places with high exposure to the virus could seek boosters, too.
The CDC will be reviewing data in the coming weeks and will make recommendations about those who got the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
The Carroll County Health Department will not be offering booster shots at its vaccination clinics because of a lack of capacity, but there are plans to schedule off-site booster shot clinics as soon as possible, according to Ed Singer, the county health officer.
“We want everyone who is eligible for third doses and boosters to talk to their health care provider to make sure it’s the right choice for them and then to get vaccinated,” Singer said. “People can get vaccinated at almost any pharmacy and many doctors’ offices.”
On Tuesday, Carroll County was listed as having high COVID-19 transmission, according to the CDC’s website.
As of Sunday, the CDC’s most recent data reported 347.24 cases per 100,000 residents in Carroll. It takes more than 100 per 100,000 to be classified as high and at least 50 new cases to be classified as having substantial transmission.
As of Tuesday, all other Maryland counties and Baltimore City were listed at either substantial or high COVID-19 transmission.
For last week, the county health department reported a total of 279 community cases after reporting 159 the week of Sept. 12 and 145 the week of Sept. 5.
Of last week’s cases, 13 were reported at congregate facilities, including four Golden Crest residents and one staff member, four Lorien Taneytown residents and one staff member, one Springfield Hospital Center staff member, one Sun Valley at Ridge Overlook staff member and one Golden Crest St. Paul’s staff member.
Six county residents — one woman over the age of 65, one woman under the age of 65, one man over the age of 65 and three Golden Crest residents — died from COVID-19 last week, according to health department data.
So far this week, 56 new community cases have been reported.
Carroll’s testing positivity rate, which measures the percentage of tests that returned positive results over the past seven days, is at 6.23%, an increase from last week’s rate of 5.42%.
After an outbreak was reported last week at Northwest Middle School in Taneytown, students learned virtually for two days. A spokesperson for the school system said the school had 18 positive cases.
Last week, Carroll County Public Schools reported a total of 214 cases, 10 among staff and 204 among students, and a separate 1,221 students are in quarantine.
Carroll County Breaking News
The Carroll County Board of Education will hold a meeting Wednesday to discuss quarantine protocols. The meeting will be held at 5 p.m. at the Board of Education offices, at 125 North Court St. in Westminster.
The state’s COVID-19 numbers have been trending upward since the beginning of July but saw a consistent decrease in its positivity rate for the past month. Its testing positivity rate was 4.13% on Tuesday and 4.44% last week.
According to the state health department’s website, 785 people are currently hospitalized due to the virus in Maryland, 40 fewer from last week. Hospitalizations hit a low of 97 patients on July 2.
About 83.4% of Marylanders ages 18 and older have received at least one dose of a vaccine. Children younger than 12 remain ineligible for the vaccines, though they are expected to qualify by the end of the year.
According to the county health department’s data, about 60.9% of eligible Carroll County residents have been fully vaccinated and almost 64.7% have received at least one dose of a vaccine.
The health department strongly encourages anyone who is not yet fully vaccinated to get their first or second vaccine at one of the health department’s clinics, which are held from 10 a.m. to noon Tuesdays and from 1 to 3 p.m. Fridays.
People can preregister at cchd.maryland.gov/registration-links or walk in to the health department, at 290 South Center St. in Westminster. People coming for second doses should bring their vaccine cards.