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County cases of COVID spike up; health officials urge residents to take action

by Geoff Fox

The Washington County Health Department has announced the cases of COVID has continued to worsen over the past few weeks and leading to spikes in the COVID-19 indicators within the county.

The positivity rate in Washington County sits at 8.11% and the seven-day average of new cases has risen to 32.91%.

For comparison, the positivity rate in Maryland is 4.92% and a case rate of 18.2%.

As of August 30, 33 people are currently hospitalized at Meritus Medical Center in Hagerstown with COVID. Of those, 28 are unvaccinated and six are in the ICU with COVID. However, none are on ventilators.

According to the Maryland Department of Health, there have been a total of 284 cases of COVID in the Hancock zip code since the pandemic began.

The Health Department said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports the level of COVID community transmission for every county in the United States.

Community transmission is marked as low, moderate, substantial, or high.

Right now, Washington County is categorized as a high transmission county.

For counties with substantial or high transmission, the CDC recommends face coverings for everyone in indoor public spaces.

The Health Department reports 45% of Washington County residents are fully vaccinated against COVID and 53% aged 12 and over fully vaccinated.

“We continue to urge unvaccinated members of the public to get their vaccine as soon as possible,” the Health Department said in a release.

Free vaccines against COVID are available to anyone aged 12 and older.

For more information or to make a COVID-19 vaccination appointment, visit washcovax.com or call 240-313-3456.

The Health Department also recommends all community members continue to take actions to protect themselves and prevent the spread of COVID-19, including:

  • Get vaccinated if you are eligible
  • Wearing a well fitted mask indoors among people who do not live with you
  • Avoiding large crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces
  • Washing you hands often with soap and water or hand sanitizer
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick or others if you are sick.

 

“In alignment with the CDC, I strongly recommend everyone wear facial coverings in indoor public settings until transmission rates are reduced to a moderate level,” Washington County Health Officer Earl Stoner said in the release. “This will help reduce the risk of COVID-19 in the community, and help stem the increase in cases and hospitalizations that we are seeing.”

Stoner also said vaccines are the best defense and are safe, effective, and readily available for

everyone over the ages of 12.

“Please do your part and get vaccinated ASAP, this protects the entire community, but especially our children, and other vulnerable populations,” he said.

“Simply put – wearing a face covering and getting vaccinated are our two biggest tools at this critical point in our fight against COVID-19.”

Community member showing any sign or symptom of COVID-19 should get tested, regardless of vaccination status or prior infection.

Asymptomatic persons exposed to COVID-19 should also get tested, regardless of vaccination status.

For more information on testing locations and hours, visit https://www.washco-md.net/coronavirus-info/.

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