Frederick County announced its first two confirmed cases on Monday of COVID-19 being linked to community spread.
The two cases are both women, one in her 30s and one in her 20s, without travel history or known contact with someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19. Both are recovering at home, according to the Frederick County Health Department.
“This means we have to move to a mitigation, instead of a containment, strategy,” Dr. Barbara Brookmyer, Frederick County health officer, said in an email.
It was a matter of time before the county saw its first cases of community spread, Brookmyer said, and cases are expected to rise in the next few weeks as more test results, especially those from Frederick Health Hospital’s drive-through testing, start coming back.
“We can assume that there are cases in the county with people who have little to no symptoms and so [they] may be spreading it unaware,” Brookmyer said in the email.
This makes four confirmed cases in Frederick County.
The Maryland Department of Health also announced an additional 44 cases on Monday, bringing the state total to 288. These do not include the two new Frederick County cases, which would bring the state to 290, a jump of 100 since Saturday.
The majority of the cases are in Montgomery County, which has 94, and Prince George’s County, with 47.
COVID-19 is spread primarily through respiratory droplets, which can be spread from person to person through close contact, the health officer said. If someone infected with the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 touches a surface, they can also transfer the virus there, allowing another person to get it after touching the surface and then their face.
Most people get the disease from coming in close contact, considered 6 feet or closer, to someone who is ill. The more close contact, the greater the chance of getting COVID-19, which is why public health officials have recommended staying home and practice social distancing.
“That is why the Governor has taken the actions he has to limit the reasons for people to be in close contact with someone who may be ill,” Brookmyer said.
When there is a confirmed case in the community, the health department is notified, Brookmyer said. The department’s public health nurses then ask the person questions and recount where the person went and with whom they were in contact. People who may have been exposed could be asked to self-quarantine, which includes monitoring symptoms if necessary.
Although Frederick County has confirmed community spread, the advice to residents remains the same, she said. People should continue to practice social distancing, cover their sneezes and coughs, and wash their hands frequently with soap and water.