As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, especially among a younger population, Frederick County expanded its fight against the novel coronavirus Thursday.
At a public-information briefing, County Executive Jan Gardner and county health officer Barbara Brookmyer announced the opening of a new testing site, the expansion of data reported on the county health department’s website and threw their support behind Gov. Larry Hogan’s expanded order on facial coverings.
The mandate, which was announced Wednesday and goes into effect at 5 p.m. Friday, requires people to wear masks in outdoor settings when physical distancing is not possible.
“Walking down Market Street or any other crowded street in Maryland, you will be required to wear a face covering,” Gardner said.
She added, “It really is our civic duty, our patriotic duty to wear our face coverings, and it should become something we do more naturally, just like we get in our cars and put our seatbelts on.”
The new testing site at 1100 W. Patrick Street-Unit H along the Golden Mile will open Aug. 8 and offer free screenings.
It joins the other testing sites sprinkled around the county, including the Walmart on Guilford Drive, five CVS pharmacies, urgent care centers and the drive-through site run by Frederick Health Hospital at Frederick Health Village off of Monocacy Boulevard.
“Testing is a critical component of our path forward,” said Gardner, who was recently tested herself so that she can visit her grandchild.
“Testing is free and easy. I encourage everyone to be tested and to do their part by wearing masks. Working together, we can prevent a spike in cases that could close businesses again. Cover up to avoid shutting down.”
There are now 2,964 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Frederick County, and more than half of them last week were with people under 30 years old, according to data from the county health department.
That’s roughly a 16 percent increase in that age group since the start of the pandemic.
“They may have milder symptoms or no symptoms at all because of their age, which could make them more likely to spread it to their family and friends,” said Dr. Randall Culpepper, deputy health officer for Frederick County.
The county health department is now reporting on its website cases by sex (53 percent female, 47 percent male) and deaths by sex (57 percent female, 43 percent male), as well as cases and deaths by race, ethnicity and age. The information will be updated every Wednesday.
Emergency Medical Services in Frederick County are responding to coronavirus cases in an increasing fashion. Over the last week, there were six confirmed cases and 34 suspected cases transported by Frederick EMS.
During the previous week, there were none.
Across the state, current hospitalizations rose for the third consecutive day. The 14 that were reported Thursday brought the overall total to 585. That’s as high as they have been since June 22.
There are 139 Maryland residents in intensive care, which is six fewer than the previous day.
The Maryland Department of Health said Thursday there were 87,177 confirmed cases and 3,357 related deaths in the state.
The number of cases were 892 more than the previous day in the state and 17 more in the county.
The death toll increased by 10 in the state, and there were no new deaths in the county. The number remained at 114.
Despite the rising number of cases, the publicly owned and operated Citizens Care and Rehab facility in Frederick announced it was moving into the second phase of its reopening. A limited number of visitors will be allowed in wearing masks, and some communal dining will be permitted.
“We all need to wear a face covering because we can be sick and infecting others and not even know it,” Culpepper said. “So, the face covering helps that sick person from spreading the virus and can protect the people around us.”