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Carroll County vaccine rates flattening; cases of COVID-19 continue to drop

The rate at which Carroll County residents are getting vaccinated against COVID-19 has flattened substantially over the past few weeks, although the numbers for the youngest eligible will be on the rise.

According to Carroll County Health Department data, 51% of all Carroll countians have received a first vaccine dose and 42.5% are fully vaccinated. By comparison, 67% of the state population age 18 and over have received at least on dose of the vaccine.

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The rates are much higher among older adults, as 88% of those 65 and over have been vaccinated. That drops to 77% for 60-64 years old, 59% for those in their 50s, 55% for those in their 40s, 51% for those in their 30s, 42% for those in their 20s and 23% for those aged 12-19 — but that last number comes with an asterisk.

“With 1,100 additional people in that group, that percentage will go way up next week,” Health Officer Ed Singer said Thursday during the Board of Commissioners open session, referring to Wednesday’s vaccination clinic for those aged 12-17 that had not yet been added to the data.

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Singer called the clinic at TownMall of Westminster “uplifting” and “a really wonderful event” with more than 1,100 kids receiving their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

Singer did note with some concern, however, the flattening of the graph that shows the percentage of vaccinated Carroll residents. Whereas in the winter and early spring the numbers of those getting vaccinated were rising sharply, over the past three-week span, Carroll went only from 45.7% to 51% in terms of first doses. That isn’t due to a lack of supply.

“At this point in time it’s unnecessary for anybody to be getting sick and dying of COVID,” Singer said. “The vaccine is readily available.”

The vaccine has helped lower the number of cases of COVID-19 locally. Carroll County has dropped into what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers to be “moderate risk” for transmission of COVID-19 for the first time since October.

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Carroll dipped to 48.1 cases of COVID-19 per week per 100,000 in population this week. Carroll had been in the “substantial” risk range the past few weeks after being at “high” risk in early April, when the county was reporting more than 135 cases per 100,000 people per week.

“That 48.1 cases per 100,000 per week is a good thing,” Singer told the commissioners, noting that the news isn’t as good for those who haven’t been immunized. “We continue to see the population that’s least vaccinated with the most cases.”

Carroll finished last week with what has been updated to 90 new cases, the county’s lowest weekly total in seven months and the fifth time in six weeks the weekly total has decreased. The last time Carroll had fewer cases was the week of Oct. 11, when 65 were reported.

On Friday afternoon, the Carroll County Health Department released new data showing that this week is on a similar trend. There were 69 new confirmed cases since Monday, including two staff cases at Springfield Hospital Center. Because some of those cases count toward last week’s total, the count for this week is 66.

Carroll’s case rate per 100,000 people per day, reported as an average over the past seven days, dropped to 5.51, the lowest it has been since Oct. 9. The rate peaked at 47.58 on Jan. 11.

Carroll’s testing positivity rate, which measures the percentage of tests that returned positive results over the past seven days, dropped to 2.69%, the county’s lowest rate since March 4.

The health department also announced a fatality on Friday.

A community member described as an over-65 female died on May 16. That makes 249 Carroll deaths attributed to the coronavirus — 174 residents of congregate living facilities and 74 members of the wider community. Of the 249 deaths, 222 were ages 65 or older.

Vaccine

The health department is holding a Moderna vaccine clinic with Spanish interpreters available on Sunday, May 23 from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at St. John Catholic Church, 43 Monroe St., Westminster. Clinics at TownMall with the Moderna vaccine are scheduled for Tuesday, May 25, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Thursday, May 27, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Clinic dates and times can be found at cchd.maryland.gov/registration-links. Registration is preferred, but walk-ups will be vaccinated. Call 410-876-4848 for more information.

Marylanders can register for an appointment at a mass vaccination site by going to covidvax.maryland.gov or calling 1-855-MD-GOVAX (1-855-634-6829). Those seeking pharmacies with available vaccine should go to vaccines.gov.

Around the state

Maryland health officials reported Friday that more than 2.7 million state residents are fully vaccinated.

There were 443 new COVID-19 infections, bringing the state’s pandemic case count to 457,527. The state has averaged 392 new cases every day for the last two weeks, the data shows.

The number of people hospitalized declined by 34 overnight to 521 Friday, the fewest reported since Oct. 31. After declining for several days, Maryland’s average testing positivity rate ticked up .01 percentage point Thursday to 2.07%.

Community cases

Carroll has reported 8,102 cases of community members who have tested positive, 4,173 women and 3,929 men. Age group data:

0-9: 367

10-19: 999

20-29: 1,415

30-39: 1,129

40-49: 1,079

50-59: 1,484

60-69: 954

70-79: 469

80-89: 175

90-99: 31

Total/probable cases

Carroll has reported 9,347 total COVID-19 cases.

The health department reported 11 new probable cases. Carroll has seen 3,311 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 Alex Mann contributed to this article.

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