Frederick County will now track the rate of new coronavirus cases on its COVID-19 dashboard online, following the lead of the Maryland Department of Health earlier this week.
The metric will be heavily influential in determining when schools can reopen for in-person instruction, according to a press release from the Frederick County government.
Previously, the Maryland State Board of Education said communities could expand to in-person instruction only after the seven-day rolling positivity rate drops below five percent and the seven-day case rate drops to five or fewer per 100,000 residents.
As of Wednesday, the county’s positivity rate, a seven-day rolling average of positive results as a percentage of all tests, was 2.2 percent. But its case rate per 100,000 was six.
The reporting of the new metric comes as County Executive Jan Gardner announced that Frederick County will follow Gov. Larry Hogan’s directive and move into Phase Three of his Roadmap Recovery that allows all businesses to open at 5 p.m. Friday with some restrictions and health protocols in place.
“We have made great progress, but we aren’t out of the woods yet,” Gardner said in a press release. “Everyone needs to continue wearing masks and staying six feet or more from others. Together, we can avoid a new wave of cases that would delay the reopening of in-person classes for all students in our schools.”
Gardner said that if the county’s seven-day case rate reaches or exceeds 10 per 100,000 for more than three consecutive days, then the reopening may be rolled back.
Key COVID-19 metrics in Maryland continued to ping-pong back and forth Thursday, alternating between increases and decreases on seemingly a daily basis. After most of the key metrics improved Wednesday, they moved back in the opposite direction Thursday, with increases in new cases, deaths, current hospitalizations and the positivity rate.
The number of new cases went up by 693, its largest increase in close to three weeks, according to the Maryland Department of Health.
That pushed the number of confirmed cases in the state past 110,000 (110,012), including 3,532 in Frederick County.
The number of cases in the county rose by 19 over the past 24 hours, a significantly higher increase than the one reported Wednesday (eight).
After the number of related deaths went up by six Wednesday, they climbed by 11 Thursday to bring the statewide total to 3,634.
In Frederick County, there were no deaths due to COVID-19 for the fifth consecutive day. The county’s death toll remained at 118.
Meanwhile, current hospitalizations attributed to the disease statewide went up by 12 to 382 after the number fell by 15 the previous day.
The number of patients in intensive care dropped by one to 112.
At Frederick Health Hospital, a fourth consecutive day passed with two COVID-19 patients, including one in intensive care.
As Maryland administered almost 25,000 COVID-19 tests over the last 24 hours, the statewide positivity rate ticked slightly higher from 3.36 percent to 3.41 percent.
In Frederick County, where more than 24 percent of the population has been tested, the positivity rate rose from 2.12 percent to 2.23 percent.