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COVID cases drop among Carroll County Public Schools students, staff members

The number of COVID-19 cases inside Carroll County Public Schools buildings dipped by nine this week after having gone up the past two weeks.

The CCPS data dashboard, which tracks cases of the coronavirus among students learning in person and staff members, showed that 88 people — 12 staffers and 76 students — have the virus this week. That’s three fewer staffers and six fewer students than last week, a decrease of more than 9% overall.

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The dashboard also showed that 215 people, including 205 students, have COVID-like symptoms, which is 16 more than last week.

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. COVID-19 symptoms are similar to symptoms from allergies, which could be a reason the number of people with symptoms are much higher compared to the numbers a month ago.

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The recent increase in the number of students who attend in-person learning, nearly 75% of those enrolled, could also be a factor.

Few elementary schools have more than a couple of COVID-19 cases. There were six cases reported at Friendship Valley this week, the most of any other elementary school. North Carroll and Oklahoma Road each have four cases, the most on the middle school level. And Century High School has 12 cases, which is double the amount at Liberty, the high school with the second-highest number of cases.

For those with symptoms, Carrolltowne and Runnymede have 13, the most on the elementary level. West Middle has 10 and Century High has seven.

New cases

The Carroll County Health Department reported 31 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday afternoon, all community cases. Carroll County has had 87 total new cases this week, down slightly from the 92 reported through the same period last week, when the county finished with 226 cases after 229 the previous week. Before that, the last time the county saw a weekly drop was the week of Feb. 21, the final of seven consecutive weeks of declining numbers following the post-holiday peak.

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Carroll’s testing positivity rate, which measures the percentage of tests that returned positive results over the past seven days, rose slightly to 5.25%. 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 18.83, the lowest it has been this month. The rate had been as low as 7.46 in early March after peaking at 47.58 on Jan. 11.

No COVID-19 deaths have been announced since Friday, when the seventh fatality in eight days was reported by the health department. Overall, 235 county residents have died from COVID-19 — 63 community members and 172 congregate living facility residents.

Vaccine

Carroll, like the state of Maryland, is in Phase 3, which means everyone 16 and older is eligible to get the vaccine. However, Carroll is only able to vaccinate those 18 and older at this time. Pfizer is the only approved vaccine for ages 16 and 17, and Carroll mostly gets the Moderna vaccine. According to the health department website, one to three first-dose clinics are being scheduled each week, and those 65 and older will be prioritized.

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 16 and older can preregister for an appointment at a mass vaccination site by going to covidvax.maryland.gov or calling 1-855-MD-GOVAX (1-855-634-6829). During preregistration, Marylanders can choose their top two preferred sites.

Around the state

Health officials in Maryland reported 1,552 new cases of the coronavirus Wednesday. For eight of the past 10 days, 1,000 or more new cases have been reported in the state. Through the first half of March, the state was consistently below 1,000, but since then, cases have increased. The two-week average is around 1,300 new cases a day.

The state’s seven-day average testing positivity rate increased to 5.69% from 5.53%, despite the fact that the state administered close to twice as many tests Tuesday than on Monday.

On Wednesday, the state reported 74,205 more people have received a dose of a coronavirus vaccine in Maryland. So far, 77.1% of adults older than 65, an age group more vulnerable to severe COVID-19 symptoms, have been vaccinated with at least their first dose in Maryland. Meanwhile, 53.4% of Marylanders between 50 and 64 have been vaccinated with at least one dose, and 36% of those between 18 and 49.

Community cases

Carroll has reported 7,426 cases of community members who have tested positive — 3,805 women and 3,621 men. Age group data:

0-9: 305

10-19: 886

20-29: 1,306

30-39: 1,041

40-49: 993

50-59: 1,377

60-69: 898

70-79: 428

80-89: 167

90-99: 25

Total cases

Carroll has reported 8,653 total COVID-19 cases. ZIP code data (those with fewer than seven cases are not listed):

21784 (Eldersburg/Sykesville): 2,151

21157 (Westminster): 1,936

21158 (Westminster): 1,056

21771 (Mount Airy): 676

21074 (Hampstead): 626

21102 (Manchester): 541

21787 (Taneytown): 515

21048 (Finksburg): 452

21776 (New Windsor): 238

21797 (Woodbine): 153

21104 (Marriottsville): 126

21791 (Union Bridge): 105

21757 (Keymar): 65

Probable cases

In addition to the confirmed cases, Carroll also reported 24 new probable cases, making a total of 2,932 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.

Hospitalizations

The number of patients being treated for COVID-19 at Carroll Hospital dropped Monday to 25 from 33 last week. The metric had been down to three on March 9. Additionally, two patients were under investigation for COVID-19, 12 critical care unit beds were in use and the total patient census was 150 out of an approximate capacity of 170.

Baltimore Sun reporter Christine Condon contributed to this article.

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