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Washington County reactivates COVID Joint Information Center as viral cases spiral

The Washington County, Maryland Joint Information Center (JIC) was reestablished and released updated information about COVID in the county on Monday, January 10, citing the current “state of emergency.”

The current JIC will provide information from 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.

Washington County is currently experiencing an extremely high level of community transmission of COVID-19.

“To put things into perspective, when we put out the last brief on June 10, 2021, Washington County’s COVID-19 positivity rate was 1.29%. Today’s positivity rate is looming at 31.9%, and since December 4, 2021, Washington County has experienced 57 people who have lost their lives to COVID-19,” county officials said Monday.

On Tuesday, January 4, 2022, Governor Hogan declared a 30-day state of emergency to take urgent short-term actions to combat the current COVID-19 surge across the entire state.

Meritus Health is experiencing a significant surge of COVID-19 patients and although equipped to handle the surge, our healthcare workers need your help.

“There are several steps YOU can take to help them over the next several weeks to keep yourself, your family, and your friends safe,” the JIC recommends. They include:

GET VACCINATED AND BOOSTED. Washington County has 52.8% of the population fully vaccinated.

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.

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, maintain social distance and wear a mask.

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.

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 operation,” the JIC said.

Employers should also consider the level of COVID-19 disease transmission in their communities.

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.

COVID-19 TESTING SITES

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 and Saturday from 8:00 a.m.-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

MERITUS HEALTH

COVID-19 DRIVE-THRU SCREENING CENTER

Currently testing improvements to traffic patterns to go in place this week. MeritusHealth.com will be updated with a map and signage will be placed on-site directing cars to use I-81 to Showalter and then to Crayton Boulevard. This pattern was developed with Washington County officials to help ease the traffic burden on days of high testing volume and need in the area.

The National Guard will arrive in Washington County this week to support Meritus Health at this testing site on Crayton Boulevard.

VACCINE & BOOSTERS

COVID-19 boosters are available for eligible patients, 12 and older, at the Meritus Health vaccine clinic at Robinwood Professional Center’s atrium. Walk-in between 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m., Monday-Friday.

EVUSHELD INJECTIONS

Evusheld injections for the prevention of COVID-19 will be offered at the Meritus Health vaccine clinic beginning Tuesday, Jan. 11.

Evusheld is a non-vaccination option for the prevention of COVID-19, appropriate for those who:

–are unable to be vaccinated due to moderate-to-severely compromised immune systems from a medical condition or due to taking immunosuppressive medications or treatments which may cause an inadequate immune response to the vaccine

–have a history of severe adverse reactions to a COVID-19 vaccine and/or component(s) of those vaccines

–according to the approved or authorized schedule are not recommended.

In some cases, this option may be recommended to a patient who is severely immunocompromised who has already been vaccinated.

Patients should talk with their health care provider to determine whether Evusheld is an appropriate pre-exposure prevention option for them. Patient and community providers can find all the resources needed on our website: COVID-19 Prevention Injections.

Washington County Government encourages anyone that enters the building to please wear a mask.

Citizens are required to submit a request to participate to khart@washco-md.net 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.

County officials asked that businesses help essential operations remain open by following CDC guidelines.

“Wearing masks inside, social distancing, regular hand washing, and expanded cleaning is still a critical part of keeping infection rates low. By continuing these precautionary measures, we can prevent a spike in infections. The coronavirus has not gone away and we must stay vigilant and encourage citizens to get vaccinated. We all have a responsibility to do our part to help our economy remain open so that our many local businesses can survive and provide jobs for our citizens.”

County officials also urged residents to seek out reliable information about the virus and their health.

“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,” they said.

The JIC consists of representatives from the following agencies: Washington County Government, Washington County Health Department, and Meritus Health.

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