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COVID-19 hospitalizations, cases among Carroll County Public Schools students increase

The number of patients being treated for COVID-19 at Carroll Hospital has risen dramatically over the past month, now approaching numbers not seen since the post-holiday peak of the pandemic. In addition, more Carroll County Public Schools students have the virus than at any time since the school system began releasing weekly data.

Thirty-three Carroll Hospital patients had COVID-19 on Wednesday, seven more than the 26 reported Tuesday. The metric had been down to three on March 9. A week later it was 11, and then the number had doubled to 22 by the last full week in March. New cases of COVID-19 have been on the rise in Carroll the past five weeks after seven consecutive weeks of declining came numbers.

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When the pandemic was at its worst in Carroll County during the holiday surge that started shortly after Thanksgiving and lasted through mid-January, Carroll Hospital typically would have been treating slightly more than 40 patients for COVID-19 on its worst day. That included 42 on Jan. 11, immediately following Carroll County’s highest number of new cases in one week.

In addition to Carroll Hospital’s 33 positive patients, two other patients were under investigation for COVID-19, nine critical care unit beds were in use and the total patient census was up to 160 (out of an approximate capacity of 170).

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Meanwhile, the number of COVID-19 cases in county’s public schools increased again.

The CCPS data dashboard, which tracks cases of the virus among students learning in person and staff members, showed 97 people, including 82 students, have the virus this week and 199 people have symptoms. The dashboard, which is updated every Wednesday, includes all active cases for staff and students, not just new cases. Some cases remain active for longer periods of time and others for only one week.

Wednesday’s dashboard reported 15 staff members with the virus this week, the same number as last week. However, cases among students jumped by 15, from 67 to 82. Piney Ridge has the most cases of the elementary school with six people. Oklahoma Road Middle has six cases as well and Century High School has 11.

Previously, the highest number of students infected had been 74 the week of Jan. 20. The data collected encompasses the two weeks in November, when CCPS briefly went to a hybrid virtual/in-person education model, and the past 13 weeks since hybrid resumed in early January.

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The number of people with symptoms typically runs higher than those who have tested positive. The dashboard reported this week 183 students and 16 staff members showing symptoms, an overall drop of 24 from last week. Karl Streaker, director of student services, recently said the higher numbers could be a result of allergies from the weather and the larger population of students in the buildings as kids are now able to attend in-person classes at least four days a week.

Cranberry Station and Robert Moton have the highest number of people with symptoms on the elementary level with 11, Northwest Middle School also has 11 and both Century and Westminster high schools have five.

New cases

The Carroll County Health Department reported 28 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, two staff cases at Carroll Lutheran Village and 26 cases among community members. Coming off five consecutive weeks of increasing or flat weekly totals, Carroll has reported 98 new cases so far this week. Last week, 226 total new cases were reported in Carroll — the most since the week of Jan. 24, the last time Carroll eclipsed 300 cases.

Carroll’s testing positivity rate, which measures the percentage of tests that returned positive results over the past seven days, dropped about a quarter of a point to 6.52%. It has been over 5% — the threshold the World Health Organization recommends jurisdictions stay below before lifting restrictions — since March 22 after dipping as low as 2.45% on March 4.

Carroll’s case rate per 100,000 people per day, reported as an average over the past seven days, dropped to 20.61. The rate had been as low as 7.46 in early March after having peaked at 47.58 on Jan. 11.

Fatalities

Another fatality attributed to COVID-19 was reported Wednesday — an over 65 member of the Carroll County community. That makes six COVID-19 deaths announced by the health department since Friday afternoon. Before that, only three Carroll countians had died of COVID-19 since Feb. 28.

There have been 234 total COVID-19 fatalities among Carroll countians. Of those, 62 were members of the community and 172 residents of congregate living facilities.

Around the state

Maryland health officials reported 1,471 new cases of the coronavirus and 11 more deaths Wednesday, ending the two-day stretch of less than 1,000 daily cases. While Wednesday’s total case count again sees the state reporting more than 1,000 coronavirus cases, it comes as health officials reported more completed tests than the past two days combined.

The statewide seven-day average positivity rate is now at 5.71%, a slight decrease compared to Tuesday’s rate of 5.8%.

As of Wednesday, about 19.61% of Maryland residents have been fully vaccinated and roughly 33.69%, or now more than 2 million people, are at least partially vaccinated.

Vaccine

According to health department data, more than 57,000 Carroll residents have had at least their first dose of vaccine.

The Carroll County Health Department is currently scheduling appointment-only vaccination clinics for people in all phases through 2B, including essential workers in 1C who live or work in Carroll, and residents age 60-64 (2A) and under 60 with health conditions soon (2B). They are continuing to prioritize those age 65 and over. When a clinic is less than a week away and is not full, the health department will share the link online to allow Carroll County residents in eligible groups to register.

For those who would like to preregister for vaccination through the Carroll County Health Department, complete the appropriate form online at cchd.maryland.gov/covid-19-interest-forms or call 410-876-4848. All Marylanders age 16 and older can now preregister for an appointment at a mass vaccination site by visiting covidvax.maryland.gov or calling 1-855-MD-GOVAX (1-855-634-6829). During preregistration, Marylanders can choose their top two preferred sites.

Community cases

Carroll has reported 7,214 cases of community members who have tested positive — 3,700 women and 3,514 men. Age group data:

0-9: 287

10-19: 861

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20-29: 1,277

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30-39: 1,015

40-49: 968

50-59: 1,342

60-69: 865

70-79: 416

80-89: 158

90-99: 25

Total cases

Carroll has reported 8,438 total COVID-19 cases. ZIP code data (those with fewer than seven cases are not listed):

21784 (Eldersburg/Sykesville): 2,100

21157 (Westminster): 1,882

21158 (Westminster): 1,023

21771 (Mount Airy): 670

21074 (Hampstead): 613

21102 (Manchester): 530

21787 (Taneytown): 502

21048 (Finksburg): 441

21776 (New Windsor): 228

21797 (Woodbine): 147

21104 (Marriottsville): 125

21791 (Union Bridge): 100

21757 (Keymar): 65

Probable cases

In addition to the confirmed cases, Carroll also reported 17 new probable cases, making a total of 2,771 probables since the beginning of the pandemic. 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.

Baltimore Sun reporter Phil Davis contributed to this article.

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