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Carroll County officials don’t plan on changing mask rules for now

A dose of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine is prepared during the final vaccine clinic at the Westminster Senior and Community Center Thursday, April 29, 2021.
A dose of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine is prepared during the final vaccine clinic at the Westminster Senior and Community Center Thursday, April 29, 2021. (Dylan Slagle)

Carroll County officials don’t plan to change masking rules in response to the latest guidance released Tuesday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommended that fully vaccinated people wear masks indoors under certain circumstances.

The announcement represented a reversal for the federal agency, which previously stated that those at least two weeks out from vaccination could forgo face masks in most public places.

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Now, the CDC is recommending indoor masking in areas with “substantial or high transmission,” and for people with weakened immune systems, or those who live with an unvaccinated or immunocompromised person, largely due to the spread of the delta variant of COVID-19 throughout the globe.

The Carroll County commissioners haven’t discussed changing local guidelines to match the new CDC recommendation and, for now, they don’t have a plan to.

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Commissioner President Ed Rothstein, R-District 5, said from day one of the pandemic, the county has adhered to Gov. Larry Hogan’s executive orders.

“There’s no reason now to make a judgment away from what the governor has already directed,” he said. “But it’s very important for Carroll countians to have the ability to reach out to the Board of Commissioners anytime with their concerns.”

In Carroll County Public Schools, the current guidelines allow mask-wearing for students and staff to be optional, regardless of vaccination status.

After several weeks of a downward trend in COVID-19 cases in the county, confirmed case numbers began to rise starting in July.

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The local health department recorded 15 new confirmed cases since Sunday this week, after seeing 44 cases last week, 29 the week of July 18, and 31 the week of July 11. These numbers represent a significant jump from the three cases reported the week of June 27 and 10 cases from the week of July 4.

Ed Singer, health officer for Carroll County, said last week a majority of positive cases now identified as the delta variant.

The countywide case rate per 100,000 people per day, reported as an average over the past seven days, is 3.82.

Carroll’s testing positivity rate, which measures the percentage of tests that returned positive results over the past seven days, is at 2.77% after being as low as 0.71% at the end of June.

Health department vaccination clinics are currently held on Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to noon and Fridays from 1 to 3 p.m at the county health department building in Westminster. Walk-ins are welcome and all three vaccines — Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Pfizer — are available at all clinics, according to a county news release.

While 60.2% of Carroll County residents have received their first dose of the vaccine, 56.7% are fully vaccinated.

More information on the clinics can be found at https://cchd.maryland.gov/registration-links/. People who need help to register or who cannot make those clinic times can call 410-876-2152 for assistance. Pharmacy and other vaccination options can be found at https://coronavirus.maryland.gov/pages/vaccine.

Over the past few weeks, the number of daily COVID-19 cases has doubled in Maryland, but the state’s case rate per remains better than in all but four other states.

Maryland’s seven-day average testing positivity rate is 3.38%, still below a 5% threshold recommended by the World Health Organization for imposing restrictions.

About 77.7% of the state’s population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccination so far.

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