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Two more COVID-19 deaths reported; Carroll County seeing decline in cases for 2nd straight week

While Carroll County has now seen more than 200 deaths from COVID-19, the number of new cases reported is trending down for the second week in a row.

Two more members of the community — a man under 65 years old and a man over 65 — have died of COVID-19, according to data reported by the Carroll County Health Department on Friday, bringing to 201 the total number of fatalities caused by the virus. Of those, 159 were residents in congregate living facilities and 42 were members of the wider community.

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Thirty-eight new cases were reported Friday. More than three weeks past the holidays that produced a surge in cases, it appears the number of positive tests will drop for a second straight week.

“Maybe we’ve hit that peak and we’re on our way down,” Health Officer Ed Singer told the Board of County Commissioners during their Thursday meeting.

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Based on data revised Friday, Carroll saw a record 503 total confirmed cases the week of Jan. 3, as well as more than 200 probable cases, as Christmas get-togethers and New Year’s Eve parties apparently created a spike, just as Singer and Carroll Hospital President Garrett Hoover had predicted they would.

But the number of cases dropped by more than 25% last week to 371 cases (also revised Friday).

Through Friday, 235 cases had been reported by the health department this week. At the same point last week, Carroll had seen 281 cases. Additionally, far fewer people are being tested, another sign that the virus is not being transmitted as frequently.

In three days at the health department testing site on the grounds of the Carroll County Agriculture Center last week, 431 people were tested. In December, testing capacity was increased to allow for as many as 250 tests per day and that number was often reached or approached in the weeks that followed. But the number of tests administered last week were 183 on Sunday, 108 on Tuesday, and 140 on Thursday.

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Singer shared with the commissioners that new cases and the demand for testing both were declining. He said the number of new cases has been down to 40 on some days and he called that “a lot better than 100,” which they were seeing at times a few weeks ago. Still he reminded the commissioners that, in the fall, their goal had been 3 to 5 cases per day.

“So where we are now is not great, but things are improving and maybe they will continue to improve and we hope that we’ll see better numbers going forward,” he said, noting that case numbers have dropped in every age group.

Commissioner Ed Rothstein reminded those watching the online meeting broadcast that although the numbers may be somewhat better, they are “still extremely striking” and that “we’re not out of the woods.”

The case rate per 100,000 residents in Carroll County, reported as a seven-day rolling average, dropped each day last week, to 27.39 after being as high as 46.81 the prior week. Carroll’s positivity rate, also reported as a seven-day rolling average, was at 6.99%, below the state’s current rate of 7.5%.

The health department reported 22 new probable cases, making a total of 1,513 probables. These are patients who test positive using a rapid antigen test, rather than a molecular test like those offered at state-run testing sites. The health department doesn’t consider these results to be confirmed cases.

Nine of the new cases were from congregate living facilities, including a resident at Sun Valley Ridge Road, representing a new outbreak. Additionally, five residents and one staffer at Bethania Home Care tested positive as did one Longview Nursing Home staff member and one staffer at a facility with such small numbers the health department does not identify it out of privacy concerns. Four other facility staff members who live outside Carroll also tested positive but do not count in the local statistics.

According to the health department website, there are 15 elder care facilities and two correctional facilities with active outbreaks.

There was one new hospitalization of a community member due to COVID-19, making 369 since the beginning of the pandemic. As of Friday, Carroll Hospital had 20 patients who are COVID-19 positive and 14 under investigation with eight ICU beds in use and a total patient census of 147 (out of a maximum capacity of approximately 170).

Of the 5,269 community members who have tested positive in Carroll, 186 are younger than 10 years old; 585 are in the 10-19 range; 955 are 20-29 years old; 734 are 30-39; 734 are 40-49; 1,009 are 50-59; 624 are 60-69; 295 are 70-79; 125 are 80-89; and 22 are in their 90s. Women have accounted for 2,757 of the positive tests, and men for 2,512.

Of Carroll’s 6,366 total COVID-19 cases, Westminster has seen the most with 2,177 across two ZIP codes, followed by Sykesville/Eldersburg with 1,614, Mount Airy with 491, Hampstead with 460, Manchester with 411, Taneytown with 388, Finksburg with 315, New Windsor with 172, Woodbine with 111, Marriottsville with 85, Union Bridge with 75, and Keymar with 55. Data is not released in ZIP codes with seven cases or fewer.

According to vaccination data on the health department website, 1,400 Carroll countians were expected to be vaccinated last week after nearly 3,000 people got doses from Dec. 30 through Monday. Most of those receiving the vaccine have been from Phase 1A in the state’s distribution plan, which includes first responders, health care providers and correctional facilities staff. The health department continued to vaccinate individuals in Phase 1A this week, as well as staff from public and private schools and child care facilities who are in Phase 1B. People age 75 or older will be starting their vaccination process next week.

The health department is asking residents who want to receive the vaccine to complete interest forms for their phase of vaccination. These forms can be found online at cchd.maryland.gov/covid-19-interest-forms. More information on the state phases can be found at covidlink.maryland.gov/content/vaccine. More information on COVID-19 vaccinations in Carroll County can be found on the health department’s page at cchd.maryland.gov/covid-19-vaccination.

Anyone who thinks they or a family member might be showing coronavirus symptoms can call the hotline between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at 410-876-4848, or contact their doctor. After hours, callers may leave a message or call 211. People with emergencies should continue to call 911.

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