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Carroll County Public Schools sees increase in COVID cases among students

The number of Carroll County Public Schools students who have COVID-19 jumped by more than 50% this week, according to the school system.

Total COVID-19 cases in CCPS went up by 12 this week, the system’s data dashboard that is updated each Wednesday showed. The number of students rose by 16 while the number of staff members dropped by four. Only students attending school in person are counted.

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In all, 60 people within CCPS have tested positive for the virus, 13 staff members and 47 students. Last week there were 48 people who tested positive, 17 staff and 31 students.

The number of people with symptoms slightly declined from last week. This week, 88 people have symptoms, seven staff and 81 students. Last week, 92 had symptoms, 17 staff and 75 students.

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Karl Streaker, director of student services, said three schools had an outbreak, defined as a case where a person in the school building transmitted the virus to another. All three were in Westminster schools.

Westminster High School had seven people affected by an outbreak. Friendship Valley Elementary had two people affected by an outbreak, as did Winters Mill High School.

As of March 5, according to Maryland State Department of Education, 66% of Carroll County school staff who want to be vaccinated had received the vaccine. Of the 4,298 teachers, administrators and support staff, 3,129 said they want the vaccine.

New cases

The Carroll County Health Department reported 25 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday afternoon, none involving congregate living facilities.

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That brings the total number of new COVID-19 cases this week to 64. That’s exactly twice as many cases as had been reported through Wednesday last week, when Carroll’s weekly total rose for the first time in two months. Carroll reported 118 cases for all of last week after 104 the previous week, which was the seventh consecutive weekly decrease in cases.

Carroll’s case rate per 100,000 people per day, which is reported as an average over the past seven days, rose for the third day in a row to 12.55, a 60% increase from Friday but still well off the case rate peak of 47.58 on Jan. 11.

Carroll’s seven-day testing positivity rate, which measures the percentage of tests that return positive results, rose to 3.67%. It has been below 5% since Feb. 14, having reached 8.34% on Jan. 8.

Vaccine

Carroll County Government and the Carroll County Health Department hosted a virtual town hall on Tuesday, answering COVID-19 questions for more than 90 minutes. Health Officer Ed Singer said more than 33,000 Carroll countians, about 18.2%, have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

Carroll remains in Phase 1B of the state’s vaccine distribution plan, which means residents who are at least 75 years old, educators and those essential for “continuity of government” are among those eligible to be vaccinated at health department clinics. As spots open up in clinics, the health department is beginning to contact some county residents who are in Phase 1C. Maryland is in Phase 1C, which includes those aged 65 to 74, workers in lab services, agriculture, manufacturing and the Postal Service.

Carroll’s health department is asking residents who want to receive the vaccine to complete interest forms for their phase of vaccination. These forms can be found online at cchd.maryland.gov/covid-19-interest-forms. More information on COVID-19 vaccinations in Carroll County can be found on the health department’s page at cchd.maryland.gov/covid-19-vaccination.

Around the state

Maryland reported 900 new cases Wednesday morning, bringing the total count of confirmed infections in the state to 389,566. The state has reported fewer than 1,000 new cases all but one day since Feb. 14, but it has reported 900 or more new infections three times in the past six days.

Another 14 Marylanders have died of the coronavirus or its effects, the state reported. In all, 7,820 residents with confirmed infections of COVID-19 have died.

Another 25,000 Marylanders received their first doses of coronavirus vaccine Tuesday, meaning 17.7% of the state’s 6 million-plus residents are at least partially vaccinated; Maryland ranks 25th among states in that metric, per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Community cases

Carroll has reported 6,438 cases of community members who have tested positive, 3,313 women and 3,125 men. By age range:

0-9: 241

10-19: 749

20-29: 1,158

30-39: 896

40-49: 876

50-59: 1,207

60-69: 766

70-79: 374

80-89: 147

90-99: 24

Total cases

Carroll has reported 7,646 total COVID-19 cases. The numbers by ZIP code:

21784 (Eldersburg/Sykesville): 1,898

21157 (Westminster): 1,718

21158 (Westminster): 927

21771 (Mount Airy): 631

21074 (Hampstead): 541

21102 (Manchester): 488

21787 (Taneytown): 451

21048 (Finksburg): 396

21776 (New Windsor): 193

21797 (Woodbine): 124

21104 (Marriottsville): 110

21791 (Union Bridge): 93

21757 (Keymar): 62

Probable cases

In addition to the confirmed cases Wednesday, Carroll also had 24 new probable cases, making a total of 2,278 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 county health department reported two new hospitalizations of Carroll residents for COVID-19, raising the number of community members who have been hospitalized for the virus to 436.

Through Tuesday, according to Carroll Hospital, three patients were hospitalized for COVID-19 — down from seven the previous week and 15 from the week before that — and 13 patients were under investigation for the virus. Additionally, seven critical care unit beds were in use and the total patient census was 150 (out of an approximate capacity of 170).

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.

Baltimore Sun reporter Nathan Ruiz contributed to this article.

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