HAGERSTOWN, MD (November 13, 2020) – Due to increases in several key health metrics, the Washington County Health Department
issues a COVID-19 alert for Washington County, MD.
Over the past few weeks, Washington County has and continues to experience an exponential rise in positive COVID cases and COVID-related hospitalizations. This surge is due to a combination of activities including moving indoors from the cold weather and fatigue with COVID-19 precautions. In particular, we are experiencing significant community spread due to gatherings of all sizes. In many instances, these have resulted in sizable clusters and outbreaks. In addition, people can spread the virus even if they do not have symptoms.
The County’s positivity rate has climbed to 7%, the highest it has been since May 1, and currently the 7th highest in Maryland. Also, the County’s case rate has increased to 29.1, the third-highest in Maryland. Hospitalizations have spiked, peaking several times in recent days. Currently, Washington County has 36 patients with COVID-19 admitted to the hospital. Over the past month, new infections have increased 137%. We are extremely concerned with the possibility that local healthcare capacity will become overwhelmed.
Today, Friday, November 13, 2020, marked the county’s worst infection rate since the pandemic began, with 29.1 of every 100,000 county residents testing positive for the COVID-19 virus. Washington County set two single day case records this week alone. Thursday’s total of new cases was 74, and today’s new case total rose exponentially to 152, a one day increase of 105%. Our big problem with COVID-19 is once it starts picking up steam, it’s really hard to stop it. Washington County is at a dangerous point in this pandemic.
Over the past few weeks, we have definitely been going in the wrong direction”, said Health Officer, Earl Stoner. “We are at a critical point, and now is not the time to reduce our vigilance, or reduce protective measures put in place.”
In addition to adhering to Governor Hogan’s current executive order’s and current Maryland Department of Health COVID-19 Directives, Health Officer Earl Stoner is strongly recommending aggressive strategies for Washington County to reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the community.
1. Adhere to the Maryland Department of Health’s Public Health Advisory to limit indoor gatherings to 25 people or less.
2. Consider canceling or postponing gatherings that are not essential.
3. If you cannot avoid bringing groups of people together,
- Urge anyone who is sick to not attend.
- Encourage those who are at higher risk for severe COVID-19 illness not to attend.
- Ensure physical distancing is adhered to.
- Clean surfaces frequently.
4. Work from home if you are able.
5. Individuals who are at higher risk of severe illness should stay home and away from large groups of people as much as possible.
6. Everyone do your part:
- Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Cover your cough or sneeze.
- Stay home if you are sick.
- Avoid touching your face.
- Try alternatives to shaking hands, like an elbow bump or wave.
“These recommendations are informed by the best public health information available. They mirror the actions being taken in many other jurisdictions and are informed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. These are important steps to protect our community’s health and are concrete things all of us can do to keep our community safe,” said Health Officer Earl Stoner.
It is time to get back on track. This is a critical and challenging time to stop the spread of COVID-19 in our community. No one likes tighter restrictions but those who do not wear masks and ignore distancing are fueling this possibility. Every person in Washington County, MD has a hand in what impact this disease has on the community. We must each redouble our efforts now to limit the spread of the virus If we do not work together over the next few weeks, not only will our healthcare workers be overwhelmed, but businesses will be adversely impacted.