The Carroll County Health Department is changing its process for COVID-19 test registrations because of the increase in demand, with a stated goal of focusing on those who’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or are showing symptoms. Those seeking tests for other reasons would be asked to look into other options.
“Even though we increased our capacity to 250 tests per day, we still can’t schedule everyone with an urgent need to be tested,” Dr. Henry Taylor, deputy health officer and medical director for the health department, said in a Tuesday news release from the health department. “With the dramatic increase in cases, we need to give priority to people who were exposed, or who are having symptoms that may be due to COVID-19.”
Over the past two months, Carroll has gone from seeing 100 or fewer positive COVID-19 tests per week to four times that many, including a record 418 new cases the week of Dec. 6. There were 98 new cases and two fatalities announced by the health department Tuesday.
Health department clinicians will continue to write orders for these individuals when requested on its COVID-19 testing webpage, according to the release. Those who need to be tested for other reasons, such as to return to work or for travel, may still use the health department site but must work with their own provider to register.
Other options for testing in Carroll County and surrounding areas can be found by visiting the Maryland testing page at covidtest.maryland.gov as many urgent care centers, clinics and pharmacies are offering COVID-19 testing.
Health department spokesperson Maggie Kunz said via email that expanding testing capacity at the Carroll County Agriculture Center is not feasible right now.
“First, we don’t have the resources to expand testing. We are currently staffing the testing site with a mixture of health department staff (all of whom have other jobs), contractual staff and volunteers. We have reached our capacity,” Kunz said. “Second, we need to prepare for vaccination. At least initially, with a limited supply of the vaccine available, the health department will be taking a lead role in ensuring that priority groups are vaccinated.
“Third, we would love to see capacity for COVID-19 testing expand in the private sector. We would like people to be able to access testing through their own providers,” she said.
This registration process change will be implemented beginning Sunday.
The testing center is open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, from 9 a.m. to noon, but will be closed this Thursday due to another event at the site. For more information on the testing center and COVID-19 testing, go to cchd.maryland.gov/covidtesting.
Also on Tuesday, the health department announced the coronavirus-related deaths of two residents of Longview Nursing Home in Manchester, both over 65 years old. There have been 146 deaths among residents of Carroll’s congregate living facilities, 16 at Longview.
Eight new facility cases were among the 98 new total cases: two Copper Ridge residents, two Lorien Taneytown staff members, one Carroll Lutheran Village resident, one Westminster Healthcare staff member, one Longview staff member and one case at the Central Maryland Correctional Facility. According to the health department website, 11 elder care facilities and the correctional facility are sites with current outbreaks.
The total number of COVID-19 cases this week is 117 through Tuesday. Data adjustments increased last week’s total case number to 389 and the previous week’s to 418. Carroll’s case rate per 100,000 in population, reported as a seven-day rolling average, dropped slightly to 37.6, after being as high as 44.78 last week.
Additionally, after numerous cases have been confirmed with PCR tests, there have been 580 probable cases in Carroll. The probable cases stem from Carroll countians who tested 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.
Carroll County Breaking News
Carroll’s positivity rate, also reported as a seven-day rolling average, dropped slightly to 8.04% through Monday, the most recent data available, but still came well above the state’s average of 7.47%.
There were 13 new hospitalizations within the community, according to the latest health department data, leaving the county’s total number of community hospitalizations for COVID-19 since the pandemic began at 254.
The most recent data shows Carroll Hospital treating 40 COVID-19 patients, an increase of seven since Friday, and another 14 who are under investigation for COVID-19 with 10 ICU beds in use and 148 beds in all.
Of the 3,646 community members who have tested positive in Carroll, 115 are younger than 10 years old; 407 are in the 10-19 range; 690 are 20-29 years old; 496 are 30-39; 516 are 40-49; 710 are 50-59; 427 are 60-69; 191 are 70-79; 82 are 80-89; and 12 are in their 90s. Women have accounted for 1,884 of the positive tests and men for 1,762.
Of Carroll’s 4,606 total COVID-19 cases, Westminster has seen the most cases with 1,557 across two ZIP codes, followed by Sykesville/Eldersburg with 1,206, Mount Airy with 393, Manchester with 320, Hampstead with 307, Taneytown with 250, Finksburg with 235, New Windsor with 103, Woodbine with 70, Marriottsville with 68, and Union Bridge and Keymar with 42 each. Data is not released in ZIP codes with seven cases or fewer.
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.