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Despite case increase, Carroll is among 2 counties in Maryland with ‘moderate’ COVID transmission rate

While Carroll is one of two counties in the state experiencing only moderate transmission of COVID-19, new cases in the county increased by about 45 percent last week over the previous week’s total.

As of Sunday, just Carroll and Queen Anne’s counties had what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes as “moderate” community spread.

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Neither is among the jurisdictions in the state which have instituted indoor mask mandates, though about 59% of residents in Carroll County and 53.5% of people in Queen Anne’s have been fully vaccinated — the fifth and 11th largest proportions in the state, respectively.

The rest of the state is in substantial transmission, which means a county has recorded at least 50 new cases per 100,000 people over the past week.

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That said, last week’s total of 64 new Carroll County COVID-19 cases was a substantial increase over the previous week’s total of 44.

The county’s case total includes three cases at congregate facilities — two Brinton Woods residents and a resident at Carroll Lutheran Village.

There have been no deaths in Carroll County due to the virus since the week of July 25.

Case numbers continue to increase all over the country while the delta variant, first discovered in India, has a higher transmissibility rate and is more likely to neutralize the protection offered by a vaccine and monoclonal antibody treatments.

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Carroll County Health Officer Ed Singer said although the county is still “pretty well below” the threshold of substantial transmission but noted cases have continued to climb over the past five weeks.

“We’re 10 to 15 cases away” from reaching that high transmission range, he said. “It could happen tomorrow, a week from now or a couple weeks from now.”

Singer said Carroll’s moderate transmission rate can partly be attributed to having “a pretty good vaccination rate” and being a rural jurisdiction where residents aren’t as densely packed as places like Baltimore City.

If the county does reach the substantial transmission threshold, the health officer said he advises people follow the CDC recommendation to wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status.

Over the past four weeks, the county has recorded new COVID-19 case totals of 64 for the week of Aug. 1; 44 for the week of July 25; 29 for the week of July 18; 31 for the week of July 11.

So far this week, the county has reported 24 new cases as of Tuesday afternoon.

According to Singer, 17 of the new cases last week were residents under the age of 18 and 13 cases were between 18 and 29 years old, which he called “unusual.”

The countywide case rate per 100,000 people per day, reported as an average over the past seven days, is now 6.45.

Carroll’s testing positivity rate, which measures the percentage of tests that returned positive results over the past seven days, is at 3.45% after being as low as 0.71% at the end of June.

“The best thing we can do is get vaccinated,” Singer said, as more than 80% of cases are people who have not received the vaccine.

Health department vaccination clinics are currently scheduled for Tuesdays from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. and Fridays from 1-3 p.m.

The clinics are now hosted at the county health department building in Westminster. Walk-ins are welcome and all three vaccines, Johnson and Johnson, Moderna, and Pfizer, are available at all clinics, according to a county news release.

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.

While the state’s COVID-19 case and hospitalization count are nowhere near their winter peak, both metrics have been trending upward since the beginning of July. The testing positivity rate, which hit a low of 0.45% in June, has since climbed to 4.21%.

According to the state website, 424 people were hospitalized due to the virus in Maryland. Hospitalizations have quadrupled since hitting a low of 97 patients about five weeks ago on July 2.

About 79% of adults in Maryland 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.

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