Barbara Brookmyer COVID

Frederick County health officer for Dr. Barbara Brookmyer announces that a person in Frederick County has tested positive for the new coronavirus disease. The person is a woman in her 30s.

Frederick County reported 44 additional COVID-19 cases Thursday, a number likely to rise as three more drive-thru testing sites to test for COVID-19 open in the county.

The Walmart on Guilford Drive will start offering drive-thru testing, Frederick County Health Officer Dr. Barbara Brookmyer announced during a press conference Thursday.

Testing will be conducted Monday, Wednesday and Fridays from 7-9 a.m., except for Memorial Day. There is no out-of-pocket cost to the tests, Brookmyer said.

Health care workers, first responders, people with symptoms and those without symptoms, following state and local plans, are eligible for tests. Results will be delivered within three to five business days, Brookmyer said.

CVS Health will open two COVID-19 testing locations in Frederick County — one on Liberty Road in Frederick and one on Rotary Avenue in New Market — the convenience store chain announced Thursday.

Tests will start Friday and are drive-thru not done in a CVS store. Patients who drive up will be given the swab collection kit through their window with instructions of how to do it. A CVS Pharmacy employee will watch the swabbing to make sure it is done properly.

The new drive-thru testing sites are part of 17 sites in Maryland and a country-wide initiate announced by CVS Thursday.

The announcement comes after Gov. Larry Hogan announced Tuesday that licensed pharmacies can now offer COVID-19 tests.

The CVS testing sites require registration in advance at CVS.com. Tests will be sent to a third-party laboratory for testing. Results will come after approximately three days.

Brookmyer said after the briefing she was happy about the new testing sites but added more testing is needed in order to understand how widespread the virus may be countywide.

“I’m really excited about those opening up because that will increase the daily and weekly amount of those being tested,” Brookmyer said. “We do need more, but that’s a tremendous help.”

Hospitalizations continue drop

Current hospitalizations, as well as intensive and acute care patients, continue to decline with current hospitalizations hitting the lowest since April 20.

Another 92 people were reported hospitalized by the Maryland Department of Health between Wednesday and Thursday. However, likely due to discharges, the number of current hospitalizations decreased by 36.

The number of intensive care patients from COVID-19 dropped to 526, down by 13. It is the lowest intensive care numbers have been since April 23.

Frederick County is also seeing the decreasing trend in acute care, according to statistics released Thursday from the Frederick County Health Department. However, there is a slight uptick in ICU beds in the county.

Statewide deaths increased by 41, bringing the total number of deaths to 2,045. At least 59 of the deaths do not have county data available, which likely include some deaths reported by the Frederick County Health Department.

The Frederick County Health Department reported 96 deaths, of 4:20 p.m. Thursday. There were no new deaths.

Frederick County currently has 1,625 positive cases of COVID-19. There have been 8,725 negative tests among county residents. That means Frederick County has about at 15.7 percent positivity rate. The county is ninth in the state in terms of positivity rates.

About 3.9 percent of Frederick County has been tested, County Executive Jan Gardner announced during the press conference Thursday.

Brookmyer said after that press conference it is difficult to know how accurate the positivity rate is — because there are less data available with COVID-19 than with other diseases like influenza, where other data can help estimate the rates, even if everyone isn’t being tested.

Counties look at this data to help determine which businesses can re-open, Gardner said. But testing in each county is different, Brookmyer said. For example, there are multiple state-run testing sites at VEIP stations in Prince George’s County, which has the most cases of COVID-19. Frederick County has no state-run sites.

Brookmyer said it is a “comparison of apples and oranges,” adding that counties have different purposes for testing residents.

Brookmyer also addressed antibody tests, which can test to see if the body built an immune response to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. It can help determine if was infected even if they did not get tested for COVID-19 while sick. However, Brookmyer said, there are many limitations with antibody tests.

She warned employers might be seeing attempts from companies trying to market antibody tests for their workforce, in order to see if they’ve had the novel coronavirus.

But it’s likely there are many false positive tests, due to unreliable methodology. In some cases, the test may not test for SARS-CoV-2 but the presence of other coronaviruses, like the ones that cause the common cold, Brookmyer said.

“And then even if it is positive from the novel coronavirus, it’s just showing your body mounted an immune response,” she said. “It’s too early to know yet whether that means whether you’ll have immunity and protection, and it’s unclear how long will you have that protection.”

Hogan also announced Thursday that he would expand contact tracing operations in the state. The state is on track to have more than 1,400 contact tracers available, according to a press release from Hogan’s office.

With support from the state, county health officials will now have the ability to track 1,000 cases and 10,000 contacts each day, according to the release.

Staff writer Steve Bohnel contributed to this report.

Follow Heather Mongilio on Twitter: @HMongilio

Heather Mongilio is the health and Fort Detrick reporter for the Frederick News-Post. She can be reached at hmongilio@newspost.com.

(30) comments

threecents

After just looking at US and MD maps, I am becoming optimistic. All things being equal, we predicted that the drop in death and hospitalizations rates would take longer to occur than the new case rate drop. But that is not happening. The death rate is dropping faster in MD (and the rest of the country) than the infection rate. To me that is indicating that the virus might be becoming less virulent as the weather warms up.

Greg F

OMg...are you a virologist or work with them? Pretty hefty assumption.

threecents

I used to be a virologist.

awteam2000

Or more likely, social distancing is working.

threecents

That would not explain why the mortality rate appears to be going down faster than the infection rate.

threecents

Please give us more specifics regarding, "Health care workers, first responders, people with symptoms and those without symptoms, following state and local plans, are eligible for tests." Thanks very much to Heather and the FNP for keeping us up to date. This is the type of news that keeps me subscribing.

threecents

Other explanation could be that the case numbers really went down a while ago, but increased testing keeps the numbers artificially high. Either explanation is encouraging.

bosco

What does increased testing if one is asymptomatic give us? We still have to wear a mask and social distance regardless of the test results.

awteam2000

Asymptomatic means you tested positive but aren’t showing symptoms.

I think you mean the theory ’hypothesis’ that having had Covid-19 and now testing negative, you have had the virus and now have the antibodies, meaning your immune system wasn’t compromised and now it’s not a threat to you, or others. That requires a different test to identify those.

The point of these test are to find how wide spread the virus is in the community. The more tested and the more negative results is a good thing. We hope to get it down to zero. Until then - testing, tracing, wearing masks, washing hands and practicing social distancing - reduces the spread.

bosco

I don't think we'll ever get it to zero and I hope the politicians aren't striving for that as a goal. We will eventually get to herd immunity bolstered with vaccines. The vaccines will need to evolve with the virus, much like the seasonal flu.

Regardless of my test results, I still have to wear a mask in retail establishments. Do you think Walmart is going to let me in without a mask if I tell them I've been tested and have the antibodies so I'm no longer a threat?

awteam2000

Abbott labs is currently working on a test to identify those that have contracted the virus and now have an antibody, a resistance aren’t in danger or a threat to others. But it’s a lot of positive-negatives, not reliable. They have more work to do.

The idea is to have a system where you can identify those that absorbed the entire ‘body’ and are safe to be in the general public without a threat to others . In several Asian countries, they feeling they have accomplished this threshold and have are monitoring those with less restrictions in the general public using antibody magnetic detection identification devices.

Historically, humans have survived plagues, but with great human toll. But through innovation, eventually get down to near zero if not zero affects. Other species haven’t been as successful. We don’t want to become ‘dinosaurs’ or the ‘passenger pigeon’ that was the dominant bird in North America as recently as the 18th century but now extinct.

The goal is not to have humans devastation from this plague or future ones. We don’t want it to be as bad as leprosy, bubonic plague, smallpox, malaria, or the Spanish flu or even H1N1.

bosco

Thanks awt. Well thought out and said. 👍 My concern is that politicians will focus on testing and cases, and not the actual impact - deaths among the most vulnerable. [ninja]

phydeaux994

Store employees have already been shot trying to enforce the mask order. Look it up.

Greg F

Antibodies are not yet proven to assure you are immune to reinfection. The research and cases are out there.

Greg F

There are many viruses that have never gotten a vaccine.

FrederickFan

Testing asymptomatic people will identify people who test positive for the virus but don't know they have it. Will isolate them for a certain number of days and allow their family and immediate contacts to be tested. The idea is to isolate the carriers a d stop the spread or at least reduce it.

DickD

If you test positive, you need to be quarantined. Question is can they force it.

threecents

They probably won't force it, but you might get sued if it looks like you spread it.

Greg F

Knowing you are exposed gives you knowledge that if you cavort out in public you are knowingly putting people at risk. Cripes, why would anyone not want to know they were or weren’t infected? Is it such a hardship to get tested? Some don’t wear masks...or don’t wear them right (not over nose as seen twice in CVS yesterday). Not testing when you can (it’s even free) seems almost a purposeful stubbornness and self-centered arrogance unless you have medical reasons not to do that.

bosco

How often should an asymptomatic person be tested if the results are negative?

vodalone

Good point, one negative test may make people feel more brazen to forego masks and social distancing.

threecents

Negative test just confirms you probably don't have to self-quarantine. It has nothing to do with social distancing and mask status.

awteam2000

If you are asymptomatic and test negative 👎, that’s called a false negative. You should test negative.The test failed.

COVID-19 contains a single-stranded (positive-sense) RNA associated with a nucleoprotein within a capsid comprised of matrix protein. Not to be too technical, you have seen the illustrations of the unique characteristics. The purpose of test is to distinguish those characteristics in your protein. That’s why we need mass testing.

“Asymptomatic” or presymtomatic are people showing no symptoms but if tested would test positive for the virus. That’s what make them asymptomatic, they don’t show symptoms but the virus is resident making them contagious “Typhoid Marys”. They will test positive and should be quarantined for at least 14 days then tested again before released from quarantine. Also (tracing) anyone they have come in contact with in the previous 14 days should be isolated.

https://www.augustahealth.com/health-focused/covid-19-asymptomatic-carriers-and-antibody-tests

awteam2000

I meant, you “SHOULD NOT” test negative if you are asympotomatic. That only means you aren’t feeling ill. The test is looking for the characteristics of the virus not whether how you feel.

awteam2000

Bosco, let me try to explain it this way: if you’re not feeling ill, get test and test positive you are asymptomatic. If your test results are negative you aren’t asymptomatic.

bosco

Thanks Awt, vodalone, and threecents. I apologize for being so dense about it. My training - eons ago - was in public health/sanitation and prevention of diseases, with only a rudimentary coverage of epidemiology and virology. This is all new to me. Happy Memorial Day weekend. [ninja]

vodalone

If it's a non-invasive swab test, I'm all for going and getting tested out of curiosity. If it's the test where the swab almost touches your brain, no thanks.

threecents

You have to self-quarantine if you are positive, which is very different from social distancing. Unfortunately, you might have to wait a week before you get the test results.

bosco

And so, back to my original question and just to make the point "What does increased testing if one is asymptomatic give us? We still have to wear a mask and social distance regardless of the test results."

New question: What standard will need to be met before masks are no longer required?

Obviously, someone who is symptomatic should contact their physician for futher guidance regarding testing and treatment.

threecents

It you are asymptomatic and test positive, you should not leave your house, and you should stay away from anyone else in your house!! In fact others in your house should probably shelter in place or get tested frequently. You may feel fine and still be infected and spread the virus.

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