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Howard County surpasses 200 COVID-19 deaths 10 months after county’s first case

More than 200 people have died of COVID-19 in Howard County since the pandemic began, according to the county’s health department.

The county hit the 200 mark this past weekend. As of Tuesday, 202 Howard County residents have died from the coronavirus.

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The record came a few days before the United States reached its new tally of 400,000 deaths and a little more than 10 months after the county’s first case last March.

In total, 13,577 Howard countians have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the health department, which means about 4% of the county’s population so far has received a positive test result.

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The first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Howard County was identified March 15. The first death was recorded March 29.

“We must remember that each case and each death is one of our Howard County neighbors, not a mere number on a dashboard,” Howard County Health Officer Maura Rossman said in November. “We knew that this fight against COVID[-19] would be a marathon and not a sprint.”

Like most of the country, the spring months of the pandemic were worse than the summer and early fall months. Starting in November, however, case numbers, positivity rates and hospitalizations increased in Howard County, in the state and across the country.

The holiday season, with increased travel and the relaxing of mitigation guidelines, extended and worsened the spike in the late fall and early winter. In December, the county hit 10,000 cases since the pandemic began and, in January, the county’s health metrics became worse than at any point in the pandemic.

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Earlier this month, the county reported its highest number of cases in a single day with 222 COVID-19 positive test results on Jan. 7. The previous high was 165 cases in November.

The county’s weekly positivity rate reached 8.1% on Jan. 8, which was the highest percentage since early June. And its seven-day rolling average new-case rate was a record 48.8 cases per 100,000 residents on Jan. 11.

However, the county’s metrics now seem to be heading in the right direction.

After reaching the record 48.8 cases per 100,000, the county’s weekly rolling new-case rate has decreased for seven straight days. The figure, as of Tuesday, was 31.1 per 100,000 — the lowest for any day in 2021.

The county’s weekly positivity rate on Tuesday was 6.7% — also lower than any day in the new year.

The World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have determined thresholds of 5% weekly positivity and 15 cases per 100,000 as when transmission is low enough to loosen restrictions. Howard County has been over 5% in weekly positivity for 53 straight days and above a weekly average of 15 cases per 100,000 for 71 days.

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