A couple months ago, the number of people hospitalized for COVID-19 at Carroll Hospital was 1. Now that number is closer to 25, said Dr. Mark Olszyk, the hospital’s chief medical officer.
The hospitalization numbers coupled with the increase of newly reported cases show the steady rise of the virus in Carroll County.
Additionally, the county was classified as having substantial COVID-19 transmission on Monday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
This status means a county has recorded at least 50 new cases per 100,000 people over the past week. The CDC website updates its data daily, and as of Monday, it reported 83.11 cases per 100,000.
All other Maryland counties and Baltimore City are listed at either substantial or high COVID-19 transmission.
In the county health department’s weekly COVID-19 data release, 121 new COVID-19 cases were reported last week. That’s up from the 90 reported the week of Aug. 8 and 63 from the week of Aug. 1.
Last week, three confirmed cases were reported at congregate facilities including a Nova Springs resident, a Pleasant View staff member and a Springfield staff member.
So far this week, the county has reported 49 new cases as of Tuesday afternoon.
Carroll’s testing positivity rate, which measures the percentage of tests that returned positive results over the past seven days, is at 5.66% after being as low as 0.71% at the end of June.
One county resident, a woman over the age of 65, died from COVID-19 last week, according to health department data.
The state’s COVID-19 case and hospitalization counts have been trending upward since the beginning of July. The testing positivity rate, which hit a low of 0.45% in June, climbed to 4.89% on Tuesday.
According to the state website, 719 people are currently hospitalized due to the virus in Maryland, a 108-person jump from last week. Hospitalizations hit a low of 97 patients on July 2.
About 80.1% of eligible Marylander have received at least one dose of vaccine. Children younger than 12 remain ineligible for the vaccines, though they are expected to qualify for vaccinations by the end of the year.
On hospitalizations, Olszyk said those admitted last year to Carroll Hospital for COVID-19 were mostly adults between the ages of 70 and 80. But more recently the hospital is seeing younger coronavirus patients between the ages of 50 and 60.
“That’s probably because people over the age of 65 are much better at getting vaccinated,” Olszyk said.
While Carroll Hospital is not yet seeing a rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations of those under the age of 21, he said residents could be sent to other institutions.
“Since late May hospitalizations have increased a little each day,” he said.
At the height of the pandemic earlier in the year, hospitalizations hovered around 40.
Carroll has not instituted indoor mask mandates like some other counties in the state. And while most Maryland school districts have mandated masks for the return to school, Carroll’s school board has kept masks optional.
Carroll County Breaking News
However, the Carroll County Board of Commissioners last week announced updated restrictions regarding all gatherings and meetings involving county staff and county facilities. In awareness of increasing COVID-19 infections and in order to protect staff and the community, all county meetings or gatherings where physical distancing of six feet is not possible will return to a virtual environment.
About 60% of eligible Carroll County residents have been fully vaccinated — the fifth largest proportion in the state.
With the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s full approval of the first COVID-19 vaccine Monday, the federal regulatory agency has set the stage for more immunization mandates in Maryland school systems, workplaces and businesses.
The long-anticipated decision, about eight months after the Pfizer/BioNTech messenger RNA vaccine received emergency use authorization by the FDA, approves the use of the vaccine in people age 16 and over. Kids 12 to 15 can still receive it under the agency’s emergency authorization provision, and younger children remain ineligible to receive any of the three vaccines available in the United States.
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, on Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to noon and Fridays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
People can preregister at https://cchd.maryland.gov/registration-links/ or simply walk-in to the health department, at 290 South Center Street in Westminster. People coming for second doses should bring their vaccine cards.
“The best thing we can do is get vaccinated,” Singer said last week, as more than 80% of confirmed cases are people who have not received the vaccine.