Key COVID-19 metrics across Maryland continued their noticeable improvement Monday, as the seven-day rolling positivity fell to its lowest level in more than a month and the number of new cases dropped to a level not reached in more than two months.
“We’re pleased to see the number of daily cases and percent of tests that are positive trending down,” Dr. Barbara Brookmyer, the county’s health officer, said in an email, “and [we] think this trend is likely due to a combination of increasing vaccination coverage in the community, increasing humidity, and the fact that it’s been several weeks from the recent religious holidays, family gatherings, and spring break vacations.”
Nearly a third of the residents in both the state and the county have been fully vaccinated. And with warmer weather driving more people outdoors, it’s gradually becoming harder for the novel coronavirus to spread.
There were 557 new cases of COVID-19 reported across the state Monday by the Maryland Department of Health, which is 349 fewer than what was reported the previous day and as low as the number has been since a one-day blip of 516 cases on Feb. 16.
Over the weekend, Gov. Larry Hogan announced that Maryland had seen a 43 percent drop in COVID-19 cases over the last week, which was the largest in the nation.
Meanwhile, the state’s seven-day rolling positivity rate, an average of positive results as a percentage of all tests, dropped by a quarter of a percentage point Monday to 4.51 percent. That’s as low as it has been since March 22 (4.45 percent).
In Frederick County, the number of new cases (19) was as low as it’s been since March 23, while the seven-day positivity rate dipped below 4 percent for the first time since March 12.
There were eight COVID-related deaths reported across the state; none of them occurred in Frederick County.
At Frederick Health Hospital, the number of coronavirus patients have been nearly cut in half over the past week. Intensive-care admissions for COVID-19 are also down 50 percent over the period.
“We know that the virus is continuing to change and mutate, and we don’t know what the future holds or when the governor will lift the remaining protective restrictions,” Brookmyer said. “The vaccine will make a real impact on the virus in our community, but that largely depends on how many people are vaccinated and how much the virus is mutating, spreading and causing severe illness. For now, it’s important to encourage everyone to get vaccinated and to continue wearing the face coverings and maintain physical distancing until we have achieved countywide immunity.”
Maryland has administered close to 4.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine, as the state nears a tipping point when supply of vaccine doses will surpass the demand for them.
The overall effort received a boost last Friday with the reauthorization of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine following a Food and Drug Administration review of rare blood clots that were associated with it.
The Maryland Department of Health gave the green light to Maryland vaccine providers to resume using their available supply of the J&J vaccine. However, the Frederick County Health Department said it was still discussing use of the vaccine with local providers and will issue its course of action by Friday.
The county health department announced it will be offering no-appointment vaccinations from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at its new high-volume vaccination center in Frederick at 800 Oak Street.
The department advised that no-appointment lines will be longer and that a vaccine is not guaranteed without an appointment.
“Please talk with your family and friends about getting vaccinated,” Brookmyer said. “We are making the vaccine more accessible to people in our community ... We know people still have questions about the vaccines, and we are happy to come to community groups to answer questions and address concerns. This phase of the vaccination campaign will take longer to reach people. So, we need everyone’s help to make sure we can offer vaccine to all [of] Frederick County who wants to be vaccinated.”