Noted in the latest “The Ball Bulletin”:
As we near nine months since we saw our first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Howard County, we must remain hypervigilant on our mitigation efforts. We have made significant strides as a community. However, as was largely anticipated, especially following the Thanksgiving holiday, we have seen a dramatic increase in COVID-19 spread throughout Howard County, the State of Maryland, and our Nation.
To date in Howard County, we have 9,725 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 5,262 active cases, 4,212 total recoveries, and 175 of our neighbors have sadly passed from this virus.
As of 9:00 a.m. today and according to the Maryland Department of Health, our 7-day average positivity rate is at 6.26% and our 7-day average case rate per 100,000 of our population is at 35.0. While we are in the lower third of Maryland jurisdictions in positivity rates, in Howard County that rate has significantly increased from 4.75% this time last month.
One of our top goals within our HoCo RISE framework was surpassing 6,500 administered tests per week. While there was doubt that this goal could be achieved, we have surpassed that goal for 22 consecutive weeks and doubled that amount for the past week. To date, we have administered 264,861 tests, and 14,678 last week alone. At this disconcerting time, residents should get tested if you think you may have been exposed to COVID-19. Since the spring, we have ramped up our collective testing capacity and several testing locations are available throughout our county.
Another HoCo RISE goal was to ensure adequate hospital capacity in the case of a possible surge. We are strong partners with the Howard County General Hospital and continue to monitor their staffing capacity. Currently, there are 33 staffed ICU beds (8 available), 189 acute care beds (35 available), and 48 ventilators (39 available). Today, there are 32 COVID-19 patients in both ICU and Acute Care unit. We remain in a heightened monitoring state.
Finally, we continue to prepare for a hard winter. While we have maintained our PPE goal of a 30-day, and now have achieved a 90-day supply of PPE.
We’re at a pivotal point in this pandemic and personal actions are extremely critical in slowing the rapid spread we’re currently seeing. We must refocus and reinforce our efforts to stop the spread among our family, friends, and neighbors. This week, we received the reassuring news that the FDA has approved the Pfizer vaccine in the U.S., and the first doses will be available as early as this week for some healthcare providers. There is a light at the end of this crisis, but we must continue the mitigation measures we all know – wear a face covering, avoid gatherings with people outside your household, and try to do as much outdoors as is safely possible.
For more data and COVID-19 information, please click here.