The number of Carroll County Public Schools students who are in quarantine for being a close contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19 has once again dropped significantly. Meanwhile, the county health department reported the second straight weekly drop in new COVID-19 cases, while it also announced one death linked to the virus.
The CCPS dashboard that tracks in-school coronavirus cases and quarantines reported last week 824 students were in quarantine. Now it’s down to 478, nearly cutting the number in half in a week. Two weeks ago, that number was 1,405.
The number of people with COVID cases has also dropped. It went from 197 last week to 173 this week, which includes five staffers, according to the system’s dashboard that updates every Wednesday.
Last week, a new quarantine policy went into affect. Instead of unvaccinated students or staff having to quarantine if they came in contact with a someone who tested positive, the new policy allows those without COVID-19 symptoms to remain in school.
Karl Streaker, director of student services, said last week that although they cannot specifically pinpoint the main reason for the drop in cases, they believe the mitigations they have in place, like mask wearing and social distancing, contributed to the lower numbers.
“In addition, the new exception from quarantine granted by the health department is greatly reducing the number of students placed in quarantine,” he said in an email.
The school system implemented a universal masking policy the second week of the school year after a General Assembly committee voted for the mandate.
This week’s dashboard showed Linton Springs had the highest number of COVID cases of all the elementary schools with nine. It’s followed by Manchester with seven and Ebb Valley and William Winchester with six each.
Sykesville Middle had 14 cases, the most on the middle school level. The second highest was Mount Airy with seven and both Northwest and North Carroll with six.
Francis Scott Key has had the highest number of cases on the high school level for the third week in a row with 25, which is a seven-person drop since last week. Century has 12 cases and Winters Mill has eight.
The state dashboard that tracks in-school outbreaks, when one person transmits the virus to another person, showed six schools had outbreaks: FSK, Manchester Elementary, Mount Airy Middle, Northwest Middle, Shiloh Middle and William Winchester elementary schools. Most of the outbreaks affected two or three people, except for FSK with 16 affected and Northwest Middle with 29 affected.
In mid-September, students at Northwest Middle School had to learn virtually for two days after the school temporarily closed due the number of COVID-19 cases and concerns about close contacts.
The state’s dashboard updates every Wednesday as well but does not always reflect the same numbers as Carroll’s.
County COVID cases continue to drop
On Wednesday, Carroll County was listed as having high COVID-19 transmission, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
The CDC’s most recent data reported 120.51 cases per 100,000 residents in Carroll. It takes more than 100 new cases per 100,000 to be classified as high and at least 50 to be classified as having substantial transmission.
As of Wednesday, all other Maryland counties and Baltimore City were listed at high COVID-19 transmission except Howard and Montgomery counties, which are listed at substantial transmission.
For last week, the county health department reported a total of new 201 COVID-19 cases after reporting 240 the week of Sept. 26 and 295 the week of Sept. 19.
Of last week’s cases, five were reported at congregate facilities, including four Carroll Lutheran Village staff members and one case at a small facility.
One county resident — one male over the age of 65 — died from COVID-19 last week, according to health department data.
So far this week, 48 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 5.27%, a decrease from last week’s rate of 5.81%.
The state’s COVID-19 numbers have been trending upward since the beginning of July but saw a consistent decrease in its positivity rate for the past month. Its testing positivity rate was 3.88% on Tuesday and 3.91% last week.
Carroll County Breaking News
According to the state health department’s website, 765 people are currently hospitalized due to the virus in Maryland, 9 fewer from the same time last week. Hospitalizations hit a low of 97 patients on July 2.
About 84.6% 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 by the end of the year.
Pfizer and BioNTech announced last week they had submitted an emergency request to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for authorization of the companies’ two-dose COVID-19 vaccine in children ages 5 to 11.
An FDA advisory committee plans to meet to discuss authorization later this month.
According to the county health department’s data, about 62.6% of eligible Carroll County residents have been fully vaccinated and almost 66% 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.
People can preregister at cchd.maryland.gov/registration-links or walk into the health department, at 290 South Center St. in Westminster. People coming for second doses should bring their vaccine cards.