COVID numbers going down

by Geoff Fox

Two years ago, the United States was seeing the beginning of a pandemic that would halt the nation in its tracks and change how we lived our lives.

While the end of the pandemic is still an unknown, we’re starting to see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the positivity rate for Washington County is, as of Monday afternoon, at 8.04%.

The positivity rate is lower according to Washington County and the Maryland Department of Health. They have the county’s positivity rate at 7.27%.

However, the community transmission is still considered high. Western Maryland, according to the CDC, is still high in community transmission. Carroll County is the closest moderate transmission county.

The county also has 82,702 fully vaccinated people and 90,024 with at least one vaccine shot.

Since the pandemic started, the Hancock zip code has seen 822 residents diagnosed with the virus, Big Pool with 257, and Little Orleans with 122.

Five hundred fifty-one people have died from the virus in Washington County, according to the state health department.

In a press release, doctors at Meritus Health said they are “cautiously optimistic” as COVID numbers improve.

As those positivity rates of COVID-19 tests collected by Meritus Health continue to go lower, inpatient medical care needs for those patients reducing and the demand for testing greatly diminished, hospital officials said all of the signs being to point toward the region emerging from the most recent and worst surge of the virus in the area.

“We are cautiously optimistic that these numbers are indicators that this surge is behind us,” said Meritus Health’s President and CEO Maulik Joshi, a doctor of public health. “They also could be indicators that we are headed toward a new phase of COVID-19.”

Health terms and phrasing matter, he added.

When a virus or disease increases dramatically in a region more than anywhere else, which is an epidemic.

COVID-19 is a pandemic which is an infection or disease growing fast and spreading globally.

Joshi said with the correct measures in place and safety precautions

taken, alongside the availability of vaccines to vulnerable and pediatric populations, COVID-19 could soon evolve into something more controllable.

“We are moving from a global pandemic to an endemic, when the disease will unfortunately still be here for a while, but manageable,” he said. “COVID-19 is moving to an endemic stage, getting us all closer to that light at the end of the tunnel.”

While doctors at Meritus Medical Center in Hagerstown continue to treat patients with COVID and the virus continues to be a very real threat to the health of the community, the next phase should be more manageable by local hospitals and less impactful.

Joshi said the “impressive response” to the pandemic by Meritus Health wasn’t temporary and permanent infrastructure and advances to the approach to care will continue to serve the needs of the community in years to come.

A new wing was built on the Hagerstown hospital to safely offer the care the community needed and new and improved pathways for virtual care were also created.

“Meritus Health didn’t just set up a couple of tents for a few months or put posters on the walls and hold our breath,” Joshi said. “Our teams have continued to step up and will continue to be here to serve the health needs for our community. Together with our commitment and our permanent investments, we are prepared to care for our community as we emerge into a new normal.”