The following was noted in the latest The Ball Bulletin email (from Howard County Executive Calvin Ball):
Howard County saw its first confirmed COVID-19 case on March 15th. In the seven months since, we have made significant strides as a community, and have come together to battle this unprecedented pandemic. Our HoCo RISE plan continues to be our guideline to combat COVID-19, and ensure the overall safety of our community.
As of 9:00 a.m. this morning, according to the Maryland Department of Health (MDH), we have a 7-day average positivity rate of 2.32% and a total of 31.0% of our population has been tested. We are monitoring slight increases in our numbers and call upon our residents to stay vigilant. Although our positivity rate remains below the Governor’s and CDC’s goal of under 5%, it has increased from 1.81% on September 24th. Our cases per 100,000 of our population is currently 6.58.
We also have concerns regarding our contact tracing response. While contact tracers continue to reach out to all cases and their contacts for residents who tested positive for COVID-19. Only 73.7% of contacts of positive cases are picking up the phone. It is vital that residents answer when contacted by the Howard County Health Department. These calls help prevent further transmission across the community.
One of our top goals within our HoCo RISE framework was surpassing 6,500 administered tests per week. While there were some who doubted we could achieve that goal, we are thrilled that as a community, we have surpassed that goal for thirteen consecutive weeks, reaching 9,999 total administered tests last week (Oct 11 – Oct 17). We are pleased to have several testing locations throughout our county. For a full list of all our locations, please visit hchealth.org
Another goal was to ensure adequate hospital capacity in the case of a possible surge. Howard County General Hospital has 133 staffed acute care beds, 33 ICU beds, and 38 ventilators. Today, there are 10 COVID-19 patients in both ICU and Acute Care units, and we are seeing a continued decline in COVID-19 related hospitalizations.
It’s critical that residents understand that the virus is not gone. Contact tracing efforts have revealed that 35% of cases are due to family gatherings, followed by those who attend house parties. As the weather gets cooler and the holidays are approaching, we must actively avoid any indoor gatherings and events where physical distancing and wearing a mask is not feasible.
Wash your hands, wear a mask, and practice physical distancing. We will only get through this, together.
For more data and COVID-19 information, please click here.
(Note – I bolded the contact tracing sentence above to highlight where COVID-19 cases are happening – kind of an important fact).