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**UPDATE** COVID-19 Joint Information Center Update: January 24, 2022

**UPDATE** COVID-19 Joint Information Center Update: January 24, 2022

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COVID-19 JOINT INFORMATION CENTER BRIEFING
January 24, 2022
 
The Joint Information Briefing will be distributed on Mondays for the duration of the current State of Emergency.
 
The Washington County, Maryland Joint Information Center (JIC) presents information provided by the Washington County Health Department, Washington County Government, and Meritus Health.
 
All information related to COVID-19 in Washington County, Maryland can be viewed at www.washco-md.net/coronavirus-info.
 
EMERGENCY OPERATIONS CENTER
 
Washington County continues to experience an extremely high level of community transmission of COVID-19. Although there has been a slight decrease in the positivity rate, the number of deaths continues to increase. Since January 10, 2022, in the past 14 days, 28 Washington County residents have died from COVID-19. Please do your part to keep yourself, your family, and members of the community safe.
 
WASHINGTON COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT
 
MERITUS HEALTH
Donate Blood, Save a Life
Our community, along with the rest of the nation, is experiencing a chronic, ongoing blood shortage. Blood donations are paramount to supporting the health needs of a community. Donated blood supports trauma/emergency treatment, surgeries, transfusions, cancer treatments, and more.
 
Please consider scheduling time to donate blood via the American Red Cross this month. You could save a life!
 
A Test Worth Taking
We know that easy access to testing is a tool that will help us continue to contain the spread of COVID-19 in our community.
 
Since the beginning, Meritus Health has been committed to offering easy, free testing to anyone in need. We’ve recently improved our processes and flow at the drive-thru testing site off Crayton Boulevard.
 
Last week alone, our teams collected more than 3,000 tests. The average wait time was less than 30 minutes all week!
 
We also expanded our hours of operation, to include Sunday hours from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. We will continue to assess the needs of our neighbors and work to ensure they continue to be met.
 
The Lowest High
This week was a record-breaking week at Meritus Medical Center, but not in a good way. We reached an unfortunate new milestone, the highest number of patients being treated for COVID-19 at the same time at the hospital. Last Friday, our dedicated teams were providing care to 99 COVID-19 patients. These numbers need to take a different turn. Please continue to make informed decisions – wear a mask, socially distance, wash your hands, and get vaccinated.
 
We All Need a Boost:
The COVID-19 booster helps to protect your immunity to COVID-19. Over time, protection from your initial vaccine decreases, and the booster shot helps to “boost” your immunity to COVID-19, especially as different variants develop. Across the country, people are generally having fewer and milder reactions after their third dose and they will be 92% less likely to experience serious symptoms or need hospital care.
 
WASHINGTON COUNTY GOVERNMENT
 
 
Washington County Government encourages anyone that enters the building to please wear a mask.
 
Citizens’ Participation at Board of County Commissioners Meetings
 
  • Citizens are required to submit a request to participate to [email protected] or by calling 240-313-2204 at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting..
 
At this time, all County operations and services continue to be offered as normal.
 
The Emergency Operations Center continues to encourage residents that if you have not yet been vaccinated to strongly consider the benefits of getting the vaccination. If you click on the photo above, it will take you to the COVID-19 Vaccine Community Calendar.
 
Meritus Health continues to experience a significant surge of COVID-19 patients. Beginning on January 14, 2022, Meritus implemented a Crisis Standards of Care due to the unprecedented situation. As mentioned last week, there are several steps YOU can take to help healthcare workers over the next several weeks to keep yourself, your family, and your friends safe:
 
  1. GET VACCINATED AND BOOSTED. Washington County has 53.3% of the population fully vaccinated. Let’s work together to continue to boost this number! If you are wary about getting the shot, please speak with your doctor. Schedule an appointment or walk in at your convenience.
  2. WEAR A MASK. To prevent the spread of COVID-19, please wear a mask that properly fits and is over your nose when you are out in a public. See the section below about mask-wearing.
  3. AVOID LARGE CROWDS AND POORLY VENTILATED INDOOR SPACES. To combat the rapid spreading of COVID-19, it is recommended to avoid large crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces for the next several weeks. If you must be inside, please maintain social distance and wear a mask.
  4. GET TESTED AND STAY HOME. If you are experiencing any COVID-19 related symptoms, please get tested and stay home. State health officials continue to urge residents not to visit an emergency room just to get a COVID-19 test.
  5. WASH YOUR HANDS. Please continue to wash your hands frequently, especially after being out in public or around people outside of your immediate household.
 
Businesses and employers can play a key role in preventing and slowing the spread within the workplace. Employers’ COVID-19 preparedness, response, and control plans should take into account workplace factors such as the feasibility of social distancing in the workplace, ability to stagger employee shifts, the degree to which employees interact with the public in person, the feasibility of accomplishing work by telework, the geographical isolation of the workplace, whether employees live in congregate housing, the proportion of employees at increased risk for severe illness, policies regarding sick leave for staff, and priority for continuity of operations. Employers should also consider the level of COVID-19 disease transmission in their communities.
 
WHY SHOULD YOU WEAR A MASK?
  • Masking is a critical public health tool for preventing spread of COVID-19, and it is important to remember that any mask is better than no mask.
  • To protect yourself and others from COVID-19, CDC continues to recommend that you wear the most protective mask you can that fits well and that you will wear consistently.
  • Masks and respirators are effective at reducing transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, when worn consistently and correctly.
  • Some masks and respirators offer higher levels of protection than others, and some may be harder to tolerate or wear consistently than others. It is most important to wear a well-fitted mask or respirator correctly that is comfortable for you and that provides good protection.
  • While all masks and respirators provide some level of protection, properly fitted respirators provide the highest level of protection. Wearing a highly protective mask or respirator may be most important for certain higher risk situations, or by some people at increased risk for severe disease.
  • CDC’s mask recommendations provide information that people can use to improve how well their masks protect them.
 
Visit the CDC website to learn more about which mask is best for you.
 
COVID-19 TESTING SITES IN WASHINGTON COUNTY, MD
 
  • Meritus Screening Drive Thru Center is located at 13620 Crayton Blvd. The drive-thru screening center is open Monday – Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m, Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
  • Health Department Testing Site is located at the Hagerstown Housing Authority at 36 W. Lee Street, Hagerstown, and is currently open on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.
  • CVS Drive-Thru Testing Site located at 1503 Potomac Ave, Hagerstown MD 21742. Please visit https://www.cvs.com/minuteclinic/covid-19-testing to see if you qualify for testing at this site and to schedule an appointment.
  • CVS Drive-Thru Testing Site located at 10 E Wilson Blvd, Hagerstown MD 21740. Please visit https://www.cvs.com/minuteclinic/covid-19-testing to see if you qualify for testing at this site and to schedule an appointment.
  • U.N.I. Urgent Care Center located at 11236 Robinwood Drive, Suite 101 Hagerstown, MD 21742. Walk-ins are welcome and patients may be charged with a copay. Everyday 8:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.; 240-313-4242
  • U.N.I. Urgent Care Center located at 18721 N Pointe Drive Hagerstown, MD 21742. Walk-ins are welcome and patients may be charged with a copay. Everyday 8:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.; 301-733-8313
The purpose of this page is to help the public distinguish between rumors and facts regarding the response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Rumors can easily circulate within communities during a crisis. Do your part to stop the spread of disinformation by doing 3 easy things; don’t believe the rumors, don’t pass them along, and go to trusted sources of information to get the facts about the state of Maryland’s (COVID-19) response. 
 
The JIC consists of representatives from the following agencies: Washington County GovernmentWashington County Health Department, and Meritus Health.
 
For additional information, please contact the Public Relations and Marketing Department at 240-313-2380 or [email protected].
 
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