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Five Carroll countians die of COVID-19; health department to begin vaccinations this week

On the same day the Carroll County Health Department announced the COVID-19 deaths of five more Carroll countians, the health department also announced it will begin vaccinating some first responders and high-risk health care workers this week.

Three of the deaths were residents of elder care facilities — one at Copper Ridge in Eldersburg, one at Brightview Westminster Ridge and one at Longview in Manchester. The other two deceased were members of the wider community, one man and one woman, both over 65.

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That brings to 183 the number of Carroll County deaths attributed to COVID-19, of which 150 were members of elder care facilities.

Additionally, 87 new community cases and five congregate living facility cases were announced Monday by the health department, but those numbers were described as “incomplete” because of staffing issues the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day hindering data tabulation.

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Vaccinations against COVID-19 will begin Wednesday, Rachel Turner, a CCHD spokesperson, said via email. She added that the health department plans clinics for priority groups throughout January.

The health department will be using Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, according to its Monday news release.

First responders and high-risk health care workers are included in Phase 1A of Maryland’s vaccination plan, along with hospital staff and long-term care facility staff and residents. Carroll Hospital has begun vaccination of its staff, and long-term care facilities are working with pharmacies to administer the vaccine, according to the release.

Initial supplies of vaccine are limited, but the health department expects additional allocations will increase access for non-hospital-based health care providers and staff in the coming weeks.

“We are excited to begin COVID-19 vaccination in Carroll County,” said Health Officer Ed Singer via the release. “This pandemic has taken a toll on our community in many ways and vaccines have historically played a critical role in controlling and eliminating the spread of debilitating and deadly diseases. We will continue to work with our partners and Carroll County citizens on this path forward.”

Once most of the individuals in Phase 1A have been vaccinated, the health department will move to the 1B group, which will include people at significantly higher risk of severe COVID-19 illness. Phase 2 currently includes people in essential jobs, and people at moderate risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and Phase 3 will be the general public. Details on each phase are still being determined at the state and local level.

CCHD is not able to provide any vaccine to the general public or register people to receive doses. The vaccination page at cchd.maryland.gov/covid-19-vaccination includes resources and information about safety, efficacy, vaccine ingredients, and more. People should contact their healthcare provider for more information about the vaccination process and their personal health. This Health Department is looking for volunteers to help with this vaccination effort, according to the release, and is having sign-ups at mdresponds.health.maryland.gov.

The preliminary data for last week lists Carroll County as having had 245 total cases of COVID-19 last week, down significantly from the 409 of the previous week and the record 418 for the week beginning Dec. 6. But, again, the health department described Monday’s data as incomplete. Also, the county testing site was closed Thursday for Christmas Eve.

Carroll’s case rate per 100,000 in population, reported as a seven-day rolling average, dropped to 29.68, after being as high as 44.78 earlier this month.

Additionally, there were 58 new probable cases, making a total of 710. 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’s positivity rate, also reported as a seven-day rolling average, dropped to 7.31% through Sunday, the most recent data available, slightly below the state’s average of 7.42%.

Twenty-eight new hospitalizations were reported leaving the county’s total number of community hospitalizations for COVID-19 since the pandemic began at 284.

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The most recent data shows Carroll Hospital treating 37 COVID-19 patients, and another 11 who are under investigation for COVID-19 with 13 ICU beds in use and 147 beds in all.

The five new congregate living facility cases were from Brightview, Westminster Healthcare Center, Birch Manor, Springfield Hospital Center and a facility with such small numbers the health department does not name it for privacy reasons. There are active outbreaks at 12 elder care facilities, according to the health department website, as well as Central Maryland Correctional Facility.

Of the 3,803 community members who have tested positive in Carroll, 122 are younger than 10 years old; 418 are in the 10-19 range; 720 are 20-29 years old; 523 are 30-39; 530 are 40-49; 743 are 50-59; 445 are 60-69; 204 are 70-79; 86 are 80-89; and 12 are in their 90s. Women have accounted for 1,973 of the positive tests, and men for 1,830.

Of Carroll’s 4,782 total COVID-19 cases, Westminster has seen the most cases with 1,608 across two ZIP codes, followed by Sykesville/Eldersburg with 1,265, Mount Airy with 400, Manchester with 338, Hampstead with 318, Taneytown with 261, Finksburg with 242, New Windsor with 106, Woodbine with 73, Marriottsville with 69, Union Bridge with 47, and Keymar with 44. 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.

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