Carroll Couny passes COVID-19 milestone; health officer concurs with Trump tweet, stresses social responsibility

On the same day President Trump issued a tweet that said, in part, “Don’t be afraid of Covid,” Carroll County passed a milestone with more than 2,000 total cases of COVID-19 reported.

The 22 new cases announced by the Carroll County Health Department brought the county’s overall number to 2,007. That represents nearly 1.2% of Carroll’s population, a rate that is roughly half the national average. Additionally, 147 Carroll countians have died of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Trump, diagnosed with COVID-19 last week, tweeted Monday afternoon, in announcing he would soon be leaving the hospital and returning to the White House, “Feeling really good! Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life.”

County Health Officer Ed Singer concurred with the theme of Trump’s message, while emphasizing that everyone has a “social responsibility” to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“I would agree with the point that Donald Trump makes in that we should not be afraid and let COVID-19 dominate our lives; however, we continue to have a responsibility to protect each other from a potentially deadly virus that has killed over 209,000 Americans,” Singer wrote in an email to the Times in response to a question about the president’s tweet. “Although some people are able to recover from this disease, many people suffer serious complications, are hospitalized, and some people die.

“We have a social responsibility to each other to take common sense steps to avoid getting others sick. Continuing to follow distancing requirements, wearing masks over our mouths and noses, avoiding large gatherings, and washing our hands are critical to doing our part to limit the spread of COVID-19 in our community.”

Of the 22 cases announced Monday, 11 of them were reported before the end of Saturday. The preliminary total of community cases for last week was 58. That was up from 44 the previous week and 54 the week before that.

The county is approaching Carroll County Public Schools’ planned date of Oct. 19 to switch to a partly in-person model. Singer and CCPS officials have said they would like to see Carroll in the “moderate” risk of COVID-19 transmission before reopening schools. That would mean a a weekly rate of 42 cases, based on U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations, and would include cases originating from congregate living facilities, though only six such cases have been reported for September. Carroll has been under 42 community cases in only two of the past 12 weeks. Carroll’s current seven-day rolling positive rate is 2.10.

While Carroll saw an uptick in cases last week, McDaniel College announced Monday morning that it was reducing its COVID-19 alert level after going a week without a case. McDaniel, which has had 15 positive results out of 2,018 total tests of its campus population since Aug. 14, had moved to Yellow level last Monday, Sept. 28, after four positive tests, but has seen none since and is back to Green.

“We are proud of the way our campus community has responded, and because of your efforts, we have seen no new positive COVID-19 cases through our surveillance testing program in the last seven days. For this reason, we have made the decision to return to a Green level alert status,” McDaniel’s Return to the Hill Committee wrote in an email to students and staff on Monday. “We have demonstrated that together, we can positively impact the health, safety, and well-being of our entire community by following the guidelines and proactive measures that have been put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

While the 22 new cases were all from the wider community, there was a net increase of 21 to 1,324 community cases as one case from the week of Sept. 20 was reclassified from the community to congregate living facilities, which has now seen 683 cases. Such facilities, which include nursing homes, have accounted for 130 of the 147 coronavirus deaths in Carroll. Only one county facility is considered the site of an active outbreak by the health department.

To date, 1,170 Carroll countians have been released from isolation, an increase of 27 since Friday. The total of community members who have been hospitalized for COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic increased by one to 125.

Of the 1,324 community members to test positive in Carroll, 25 are younger than 10 years old; 170 are in the 10-19 range; 290 are 20-29 years old; 162 are 30-39; 189 are 40-49; 265 are 50-59; 142 are 60-69; 45 are 70-79; 34 are 80-89; and two are in their 90s. Women have accounted for 682 of the positive tests, and men 642.

According to health department data, Westminster has seen the most total cases, with 669 across two ZIP codes, followed by Sykesville/Eldersburg with 530, Mount Airy with 251, Manchester with 140, Hampstead with 94, Finksburg with 93, Taneytown with 76, New Windsor with 43, Marriottsville with 35, Keymar with 28, Woodbine with 23 and Union Bridge with 19. 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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