As Carroll County continues to switch between the classifications of substantial and high COVID-19 community transmission, the health department is working toward providing more access to testing for residents.
On Tuesday, the county had high COVID-19 transmission, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. As of Sunday, the CDC’s most recent data, it reported 107.45 cases per 100,000 residents in Carroll.
According to CDC guidelines, it takes at least 50 new cases per 100,000 to be classified as having substantial transmission and more than 100 to be classified as high. As of Tuesday, all other Maryland counties and Baltimore City were listed at either substantial or high COVID-19 transmission.
After an outbreak was reported Monday at Northwest Middle School in Taneytown, students learned virtually Tuesday and will do so again Wednesday. A spokesperson for the school system said the school had 18 positive cases.
The system reported Friday there were 803 close contacts in quarantine and there were 136 students and staff who tested positive for the virus as of Sept. 15. Carroll was the only district in the region to start school without masks until a General Assembly committee implemented a universal mask mandate for all public schools a week later.
While the health department this week is focused on offering testing at Northwest Middle for students and staff affected by the outbreak, it has also been working with a lab to expand its capacity to test people it identifies through contact tracing, according to Maggie Kunz, health planner with the department.
“We hope to have the new system in place early next week,” Kunz said.
Last week the county health department reported a total of 161 community cases after reporting 149 the week of Sept. 5 and 205 the week of Aug. 29.
Of last week’s cases, seven were reported at congregate facilities, including two Lorien Taneytown residents, two Springfield Hospital Center staff, one Fairhaven resident, one Golden Crest resident and one small facility case. In addition, there was one fatality in a Brinton Woods resident.
So far this week, 97 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 5.42%, a decrease from last week’s rate of 6.03%.
Two county residents — one woman over the age of 65 and one woman under the age of 65 — died from COVID-19 last week, according to health department data.
The state’s COVID-19 numbers have been trending upward since the beginning of July but saw a small decrease in its positivity rate three weeks in a row. Its testing positivity rate was 4.44% on Tuesday and 4.61% last week. The state’s positivity rate hit a low of 0.45% in June.
According to the state health department’s website, 825 people are currently hospitalized due to the virus in Maryland, three fewer from last week. Hospitalizations hit a low of 97 patients on July 2.
About 82.9% 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 for vaccinations 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.
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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.