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Coronavirus Updates: Howard County Aligns with Governor’s Phase 2 Reopening, Contact Tracing Campaign

Coronavirus Updates: Howard County Aligns with Governor’s Phase 2 Reopening, Contact Tracing Campaign

June 3, 2020 

Media Contact: 

Scott Peterson, Director of Communications, Office of Public Information, 202-277-9412 

 

ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Today, Governor Hogan announced the reopening of additional non-essential businesses effective Friday, June 5th at 5:00 p.m., including some additional personal services, as Maryland moves into Phase 2 of his Roadmap to Recovery plan. Howard County will be aligning its reopening status with the State of Maryland, as well as his previous orders, which includes allowing indoor faith services as outlined by the Governor’s Executive Order. The Department of Recreation & Parks is reopening restrooms at its parks; however, playgrounds will remain closed. County Executive Calvin Ball will be signing an Executive Order tomorrow to bring Howard County’s reopening status in line with Maryland.  

“We continue to see progress on the building blocks needed to reopen safely and effectively,” said County Executive Calvin Ball. “We expect our case numbers to increase as we test more of our population and will be keeping a close eye on our hospitalization, ICU, and ventilator rates over the coming weeks. Residents should continue to be vigilant in this new normal – just because we are making progress does not mean the risk is completely eliminated.” 

Howard County is making data informed decisions on reopening guidance. CDC Guidelines call for a downward trajectory of the positivity rate below 15% for 14 days after entering Phase 1. Currently, the county is seeing the following COVID-19 data trends that continue to progress in the right direction to allow further reopenings:   

  • A rolling seven-day average positivity rate of 8.8%. 
    • The State of Maryland has a collective positivity rate of 9.5%.  
  • Howard County has tested approximately 15,712 people, or 4.5% of its population.  
    • Howard County has increased testing from 1,300 tests performed each week as of May 14th to now more than 3,700 in the last week as new testing sites have come on board. 
  • Howard County has increased contact tracers from 11 as of May 14th to 35 today. The Health Department is expecting additional hires in the coming week.  
  • During the past seven days, the Howard County General Hospital’s ICU utilization rate dropped from 70% to 52%.  
    • While a majority of the utilization in the ICU is driven by non-COVID patients, the number of COVID patients in the ICU has dropped from seven to three during that same period.  
    • Although May has seen multiple instances of an ICU COVID patient count of three, the last time outside of May ICU COVID patient numbers was at or below three was on April 7.  
  • Howard County also continues to increase PPE supply and testing sites. There currently more than a 30-day supply of PPE.  

 

Residents can obtain a diagnostic test at the following sites: 

VEIP Site in Columbia - 6340 Woodside Ct, Columbia  

CVS Pharmacy in Fulton - 8197 Westside Boulevard, Fulton 

First Call Urgent Care Center - 10981 Johns Hopkins Rd, Laurel 

All Care Urgent Care - 9396 Baltimore National Pike, Ellicott City 

Ouch Urgent Care – 6020 Meadowridge Center Dr. Suite F, Elkridge  

Righttime Medical Care – 6334 Cedar Lane, Columbia 

“While the curve continues to flatten, and analytics indicate that we are moving in a positive direction, we must continue to follow non-pharmaceutical interventions,” said Dr. Maura Rossman, Howard County Health Officer. “Residents should continue wearing masks, maintaining social distancing and handwashing to ensure a successful, broader reopening of the county." 

 

Religious Institutions  

Howard County will be aligning its reopening status with the State of Maryland, as well as his previous orders, which includes allowing indoor faith services at 50% capacity as outlined by the Governor’s Executive Order. Howard County has been in contact with more than 200 faith leaders across the county throughout the pandemic. At this time, many do not plan to reopen indoor services right away. However, some will reopen with safety guidelines in place. 

 

Contact Tracing Campaign 

The Maryland Department of Health (MDH) today will begin rolling out a new state-wide campaign to educate Marylanders about the importance of contact tracing and how it is a vital tool in the fight against the spread of coronavirus.  

For Marylanders who have had COVID-19, working with contact tracers has helped combat the disease by connecting friends, family members and acquaintances to local health departments. 

When an individual test positive, case investigators reach out to that person by phone within 24 hours. Based on information collected about the COVID-19 positive individual’s symptoms and contact history, case investigators will call other people with whom the individual has had close contact and provide necessary guidance about monitoring symptoms and isolating at home. 

When the phone rings, the caller ID will read “MD COVID.” Depending on whether the contact investigator is calling directly from the Maryland Department of Health partners a local health department, there will also be a list of phone numbers provided to verify the caller’s identity. Maryland’s contact tracing workforce is trained to ensure that all personal information is collected in accordance with regulations and guidelines to protect privacy and personal health information.  

The contact tracer will ask about the individual’s health, any potential symptoms, and the duration of those symptoms. They may ask about an individual’s whereabouts and interactions for a specific period of time. A contact investigator will never ask for a Social Security number, financial or bank account information, or personal details unrelated to COVID-19. They will not ask for photographs or videos, passwords or any payment. 

For more information on contact tracing in Maryland, please visit https://coronavirus.maryland.gov/pages/contact-tracing. For more information about Howard County’s contact tracing, please visit: https://www.howardcountymd.gov/Departments/Health/MM-Alerts-and-Recalls 

 

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