New Spikes, Same Worries in Montgomery County

At least 912 people have died from Covid in County; more than 33,400 cases have been reported.

Covid Cases in Montgomery reached a new high on Nov. 19. 2020. That day, the three-day average of new confirmed cases was 364 cases; the previous peak was 321 exactly six months earlier on May 19, 2020. The County reported 505 new cases on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020.

Health officials suggest the need to see a sustained decrease of new cases during a 14-day period to consider easing restrictions. But Montgomery County has had only one declining day in the last two weeks.

“The case counts are continuing to rise at an alarming rate, and we need to take more drastic steps to reduce transmission,” said Montgomery County Health Officer Travis Gayles.

Gayles issued a new health directive Nov. 25 limiting Indoor gatherings to 10 people. The new restriction on gatherings was put in place to curtail the number of cases that come from family and other gatherings. According to state contact tracing data, gatherings are a major source of COVID-19 transmissions.

“We are entering a phase of COVID-19 that is very worrisome, and we need every resident to understand what that means,” he said. “It is critical that each one of us takes this directive seriously and does our part to slow the spread.”

Wearing masks is also an important part of the strategy to reduce the spread of COVID.

When residents leave their homes, they are required to wear a face covering when they are likely to come in contact with others who are not members of their household; residents are advised to always carry a mask with them.

Face coverings must be worn in businesses, office buildings and other establishments open to the public. When you are out walking or jogging, wearing a mask when you are likely to be within six feet of someone, even if it is solely in passing, is required.

The three-day average of new cases on Nov. 30, following Gayles directive, was 266 new cases.

ALL RESIDENTS should get tested, according to health officials.

On Nov. 30, 2019, 6,841 people were tested and the positivity rate in Montgomery County was 5.5 percent.

Testing is important for everyone so that health officials can track the spread of COVID-19 in the community. Some individuals with COVID-19 can be asymptomatic (without symptoms) and spread the disease to vulnerable groups, such as the elderly and people with disabilities.

Testing clinics are free, no doctor’s order is required and no appointments are needed. Residents who are experiencing symptoms can call the Testing Helpline at 240-777-1755 for assistance with scheduling testing, as not all sites accept residents with symptoms. Some testing site locations have changed to accommodate weather changes. The County’s home-based testing and human services screening is also available for eligible residents. Find more information on the home-based testing and eligibility at https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/covid19/testing/home-based-testing.html

Find a complete schedule of upcoming clinics at https://montgomerycountymd.gov/covid19/testing.html

HOSPITALIZATIONS ARE RISING, again, with the three-day average on Nov. 30 at 227. There have been zero declining days in the last two weeks, as of Nov. 30, the Almanac deadline.

The three-day average peaked on May 7, 2020 at 480 cases. One month before, the three-day average was 83.

The three-day average of people being treated in the Intensive Care Unit is 70, also with zero declining days in the last two weeks, as of Nov. 30.

Montgomery County Officials also suggest less than 80 percent of Intensive Care Unit beds should be in use before the county can reduce restrictions. The three-day average of ICU beds in use rose to 82 percent on Nov. 20 and was still at 71 percent on Nov. 29.

County Executive Marc Elrich said the projections for Maryland “aren’t good.”

“We’re in danger of overwhelming hospitals,” he said in a tweet. “Small steps won’t bend the curve in the right direction. We need the new Administration to get real assistance to businesses that bear this load. It’s not blue or red, it’s all of us.”

The state-wide picture is more troubling.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan reported in a tweet that “Maryland’s total COVID-19 hospitalizations have reached their highest level since May.”

Maryland reported that 4,486 people have died from Covid, 198,370 cases have been confirmed, and the state is at a 6.86 positivity rate. The day before Hogan’s post, 1,923 cases in Maryland were reported.

“As this new surge continues, each and every Marylander must exercise personal responsibility in order to save lives and prevent our hospitals from overflowing,” he said.

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