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Coronavirus (COVID-19)

August 9, 2020, Further Fallout from "Graduation/COVID" Party

Over the past 2 weeks, 40% of all COVID cases in Calvert have occurred in 15-19 year olds. This narrow age range has accounted for almost to half of all our cases! As noted in our previous post, a Graduation/“COVID-19” party in Drum Point on 7/25 served as the cauldron for many of these infections. At present, the Health Department knows of 15 attendees of that party who have tested positive. In addition, 3 parents, 1 grandparent, 1 sibling, and 4 co-workers are known to have become ill as a result of secondary infections. At least 2 adults have been hospitalized, one of whom is in the ICU.

It's likely that other 15-19 year olds who have tested positive since late July attended the same party or other similar parties. Close to a dozen teens with positive test at the end of July and early August have not answered calls from COVID contact tracers. In these cases, we only have the teens' cell numbers- no home phone numbers- so there’s no way for us to confirm whether they were in attendance. It’s also a certainty that others at the party became infected but did not get tested and/or remained asymptomatic. In either case, these people could have infected family members or other close contacts. As a result, the total number of Calvert infections that were spawned as a result of transmission at this party will never be fully known.

This should be a wake-up call to everyone. Every day, we’re all playing a game of chess. Each move we make today has repercussions down the board. The COVID risks we expose ourselves to, whether it’s at parties or any setting with large numbers of people, also leave those in our daily lives at potential risk for weeks to come.

Finally, healthcare providers should educate adults, especially those with underlying health conditions, that they need to be mindful of potential transmission from their children/grandchildren. They should include, "Do you have a 15-19 year old in your household?" to their clinical screening questions until we see numbers decline.

August 4, 2020

Over the past 10 days, we began to see a surge in COVID cases among teens and young adults. This is at least partly due to gatherings at pool parties, bars, and other social events.

Since mid-July, 54.4% of the 200+ COVID cases diagnosed in Calvert have been among those ages 15-29. Those between 15-19 years old have accounted for an astounding 30% of the diagnosed cases in the county.

At the same time, we have seen that older adults with higher medical risks are doing a better job keeping themselves out of harms way. People 55 and older have accounted for 11.7% of our positive tests during the past 3+ weeks. But despite efforts of those with greater health risks to avoid higher-risk situations, it is inevitable that teens and young adults will transmit the virus to household contacts, some of whom will develop life-threatening medical complications. Over the past week, we’ve seen COVID admissions at CalvertHealth Medical Center jump from 1-2 patients on a typical day in June and most of July to 8 patients currently needing inpatient care.

Conspiracy theories and misinformation continue to spread on social media and other outlets. COVID is no hoax. We’ve had 12 deaths in our county and many more people have been hospitalized since March. There will be people who survive their illness but will be left with permanent lung damage or long-term renal impairment and cognitive loss due to blood clots to their kidneys and brains (strokes). Professional sports leagues from NASCAR to the NBA to Major League Baseball have not forfeited billions of dollars due to a hoax. They understand the very real risks for athletes, staff, and their families.

As a nation, we have failed to act in a coordinated and decisive manner. The reality is that until we have an effective vaccine, cases of COVID will continue. Our goal at this point should be to minimize transmission of the virus in our county and prevent outbreaks. We need to act in ways that respect everyone’s health and safety. Avoid close, in-person contact with anyone outside of your household. Wear a face mask over your mouth and nose when out in public or at work. If you need to travel, avoid eating inside restaurants and going to any area where you can’t adequately space apart from others. A crowded venue in Ocean City can be just as risky as a crowded location in Florida or Arizona.

Teens need to think about the consequences of attending parties, especially where alcohol is being served. Alcohol increases the risk of virus transmission as a result of decreasing both inhibitions and good judgment. The health department just learned of a party attended by close to 100 teens in the Drum Point area that has resulted in multiple new cases of COVID infections. Parents also need to be aware that under Maryland law, if alcohol is consumed at a party on their property by people under 21, the homeowners are subject to criminal prosecution.

We all have a stake in this. Schools have been closed across the state depriving students from pre-K to high school seniors of a better education, in-person friendships and social support, and extra-curricular activities, including sports. Most businesses have been adversely impacted, costing owners dearly and depriving employees of a steady paycheck. It will be at least April before we know which vaccines are effective and until enough people are vaccinated to sufficiently reduce the risks of COVID.

Between now and then, we can’t escape reality. This virus is indifferent to what we want to believe or how we would like to live our lives. Our collective actions will result in either spikes of serious illnesses and further business and scholastic disruptions or a more moderate course that prevents our hospital from being overwhelmed and avoids the likelihood of further shutdowns. It sucks, but we can’t reset the calendar to January.

Avoid unnecessary travel. Don’t attend parties and large gatherings. Wear your face masks whenever you’re around people outside of your household. If you are older or have chronic health problems and you share a home with someone between 15-27 years old, talk to them about their potential exposures to COVID and act accordingly. Finally, support local businesses- they can use all the help they can get until we have an effective vaccine. Take care and stay safe.

July 13, 2020

Update on COVID-Related Deaths in Calvert County

As of 7/12/20, there have been 11 COVID-related deaths among Calvert residents. The mortality rate in Calvert is approximately 4.5 times lower than the mortality rate for the state of Maryland as a whole. For those who have seen a higher number of deaths on the state COVID website, it should be noted that their accounting is erroneous. A fuller explanation can be found in our earlier post: https://www.calvertcountycovid19.com/post/new-policy-to-list-covid-19-deaths-on-our-websites

It is difficult to write about this topic because each of those 11 is not a statistic, but a human being with family and friends. However, we understand that members of our community may want to understand more about the most serious consequence of COVID infections. Until this time, there has been no mention of details related to the deaths of Calvert residents because of the need for the Health Department to maintain individual confidentiality. With such few cases in the spring, almost any information could have allowed people to trace details back to a specific person’s death. This remains a concern, so the information that follows is meant to provide a reasonable understanding of trends while continuing to respect the privacy of families that have lost loved ones.

One should keep in mind that there is a limited amount of generalizable information that can be understood from very low incidence of any type of event. Eleven deaths are too few to reach definitive conclusions, but there are several things of note. Age and racial breakdowns are as follows:

55-64   3 deaths

65-74   3 deaths

75+       5 deaths

African American   7 deaths

White                         4 deaths

Four important factors emerge at this point. First, there have not been any deaths of individuals below the age of 55 in Calvert. However, throughout the rest of Maryland, close to 300 people under 55 have died of COVID-related infections.  Second, each deceased Calvert resident had at least one underlying chronic health condition. Third, the staff at each of our county’s nursing homes and assisted living facilities have done a consistently great job in protecting their residents. And fourth, we are witnessing yet another clear sign of the disproportionate health burden carried by African Americans.

Statewide, 31% of the population is African American and 40% of COVID deaths have occurred in this population. In Calvert, African Americans account for 13% of the population and 64% of COVID deaths. Although it would be unwise to draw definitive conclusions from our local sample size, national data has made it clear that greater attention is needed to chronic disease management, historic inequities, and continuing social stressors that impact African Americans.

Each of us should reflect on how we can take action to make our community a more just and equitable place for every child and adult regardless of race or ethnicity. COVID is the latest indicator of a deeper problem that we continue to grapple with as Americans. Perhaps posterity will look back at 2020 as a turning point in U.S. history. We all have an opportunity to make a difference.

July 3, 2020

This will be a 4th of July unlike any other that we have experienced. COVID has disrupted family gatherings, schools, businesses, daycares, vacations, and summer recreation in unprecedented ways.

The 1776 Declaration of, “unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” was bound to the understanding that the new nation “lay its foundation on such principles… most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.” “Safety” is deliberately placed before “happiness”, an acknowledgement by the Founders that without safety, happiness is diminished.

The Declaration of Independence is not a legal document. It was, and remains, an aspiration to local political autonomy, not an invitation to anarchy. The Founders clearly understood that social norms and regulations crafted by direct representatives of the governed would increase personal liberties. But with these freedoms come the need for greater personal responsibilities. The 18th century saw waves of smallpox, yellow fever, and other infectious diseases. Just as we have enacted restrictions on certain freedoms to prevent the spread of COVID and its resulting dangers, the generation of the Founders enacted quarantines and other limitations on commerce and personal liberties to protect health and lives.

But laws and regulations can’t be enforced in every location at every time. If we hope to keep the virus in check, it will ultimately be done as a result of personal decision-making. Coronavirus is indifferent to anyone’s desires or beliefs. Virus particles don’t care why someone may refuse to wear a mask, attend a large party, or travel to an area with high infection rates. Viruses do what they are genetically programmed to do. COVID latches onto cells in a person’s respiratory tract, propagates, and spreads to the next person who falls in its path. Regardless of a individual’s rationale, this virus will continue to spread through communities aided by those who choose to act in ways contrary to basic health principles.

We are currently witnessing the results of oppositional behavior (ignoring evidence of increased transmission when people fail to wear masks and continue to congregate in large numbers) in states throughout the Southern and Western U.S. Currently the average American resident is 20 times more likely to become infected than someone living in Italy. No other industrialized country in the world has infection rates and mortality rates anywhere near those in the U.S.

This July 4th, we should act with benevolence toward our fellow Americans, some of whom are vulnerable to severe health consequences of COVID and others who will be adversely impacted financially, educationally, and/or emotionally by preventable spread. If infections spike in the months ahead, it won’t matter whether government restrictions are reimposed. The 1918-19 Influenza Pandemic led to mass business closures across the country, not because of government orders, but because We The People were afraid to go to restaurants, theaters, and any retailer that was not absolutely necessary.

This Saturday, take time to reflect on the liberties that we enjoy and the sacrifices, large and small, that patriotic Americans make to protect our collective “Safety and Happiness”. COVID-19 won’t be with us forever. But until a vaccine is available, likely sometime into 2021, we need to treat each other with consideration, including wearing face masks in public, staying home when we don’t feel well, and holding off on some of the group activities that we would otherwise like to do. As James Madison enshrined in the preamble our other great document, the U.S. Constitution, we must live up to the principles to: “promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity“. Have a happy 4th and a safe summer.

June 11, 2020

COVID infections continue to decrease across Calvert. Although it’s difficult to make direct comparisons of statistics over the past three months due to vast differences in testing availability between mid-March and early June, analysis of multiple data points indicate that COVID prevalence in our county is the lowest it’s been since March. For all of you who have been taking precautions such as wearing face masks, minimizing unnecessary trips, staying home when you don’t feel well, and maintaining the all-to-familiar 6 feet of space from others, please take a bow.

Where are we going from here? First we need to remember that COVID is still in our community, and the virus is present at even higher levels in many surrounding counties. Anyone who is 60 or older, anyone with health conditions that weaken their immune system, and anyone who lives in a household with someone at high-risk of medical complications should continue to avoid public situations that carry significant risk of infection. For others, we can socialize more, but each of us should continue to make reasonable choices that won’t spark new outbreaks.

If we continue to act with consideration for our family and neighbors, it’s possible that we may see cases drop near zero this summer. This should be our goal as we think about children going through chemotherapy, first responders with diabetes, and co-workers with chronic health conditions who want to safely return to their jobs.

Our health department staff is very happy to see businesses opening their doors and recreational activities resume. Let’s continue moving forward. At this point, maintaining reasonable distances from others on the sidelines of your child’s soccer games, wearing a face mask whenever possible in public indoor settings, and staying home when you or a family member is sick are relatively small prices to pay for a summer of relative normalcy.

Discover a new and uncrowded vacation destination this summer.
Consider eating out on a weeknight to support a local restaurant and avoid the crowds.
Shop in smaller, locally owned stores.
Become a regular at the Farmers’ Market.
Come up with your own list of ways to enjoy the summer while keeping yourself, your family, and your neighbors healthy.
Keep up the great work, Calvert!

June 4, 2020

Calvert County Public Playgrounds, Parks Reopening

Calvert County playgrounds, basketball courts, and skateparks will open to the public on Friday June 5th. The most recent surveillance data for our county shows a gradual, sustained decline in local COVID infections since mid-April. This signals a clear decrease in transmission risk as children and teens engage in outdoor activity. By the Governor’s Orders, no more than 10 people may occupy a playground or other recreational area at any given time. Social distancing should continue to be observed to the greatest extent possible.

Calvert County Health Department has worked with the County Government staff and most importantly, the residents and employers of Calvert to protect the health and safety of our community. We are proud of the decisions we’ve made since the first cases of COVID appeared in early-March. Coupled with the actions taken by individuals and businesses, the number of COVID-related deaths in Calvert has been 10-times less per capita than has been seen in Maryland as a whole. In addition, by limiting the spread of the virus, many other Calvert residents have been spared severe illnesses that may have left them chronically debilitated from lung and kidney damage.

As playgrounds and recreation facilities open, it’s extremely important for parents to keep in mind that COVID-19 is still present in Calvert County. Risks of virus transmission are significantly less than they were 4-6 weeks ago, but they are not gone. Children and teens with any health condition that compromise their immune systems should not be brought to playgrounds or athletic fields. Children and teens who live in a household with elderly relatives or others with underlying chronic health conditions, should also continue to avoid public recreation settings at this time. Hopefully, as the summer progresses, the prevalence of COVID will drop to near zero. At that time, it will be safer for these children to play in public settings. Until then, parents of these children should arrange home playdates with a small number of their children’s friends who they can verify do not have any ill members of their household.

When playgrounds, fields, and courts reopen, please continue to keep the health of your neighbors in mind. If any member of your household has been ill during the past 14 days, do not bring your children to a public space. When children do come to the playground or athletic field, parents should continue to space themselves more than 6 feet apart. Although transmission of respiratory viruses is less likely outdoors, there is still some risk. Face masks are encouraged for parents and other spectators. Children who are playing should not have face coverings. The potential for heat stroke increases with face coverings. This lack of face covering makes it even more important that children who may be carrying COVID are not brought to public facilities.

The Calvert Health Department staff understand the stress on children as we’ve all tried to balance the direct risks of the virus with the impacts of more social isolation. Most of our staff are parents who are living through this unprecedented crisis along with you. We are very happy to see more opportunities for kids to be kids. The more personal responsibility we all take, the safer it keeps the most vulnerable in our community. We also need to keep in mind that outbreaks of COVID among children during the summer will make it harder for daycares to stay open and may have unwanted consequences as decisions are made about school reopenings in September. Take care, continue to be good neighbors, and enjoy the outdoors!

May 13, 2020

New Policy to List COVID-19 Deaths on Our Websites

To this point, our health department has not posted the number of COVID-related deaths in Calvert County. This decision was not made in an attempt to hide information from the public. The concern was a potential show of disrespect to the families of the few who have died. Reducing the death of an individual to a statistic dehumanizes that loss.

When hundreds or thousands of people perish in a calamitous event, there is a degree of anonymity to a mortality count. When only two or three people have died, each of those numbers represents a specific individual.

However, as a result of a misleading state method of attributing deaths to each county, our health department has made the decision to post the current number of coronavirus deaths in Calvert County. The state COVID website now attributes 12 deaths to Calvert County. The actual number of deaths is 3.

The state assigns a death to a county based on the address listed on each death certificate. This is problematic because the address of “residence” is provided by family members and not based on the actual residence of the individual at the time they acquired the infection. Of the 9 deaths misattributed to Calvert County, it appears that all of these individuals were previous residents of Calvert, but had been living in nursing homes outside of the county at the time they became infected with COVID-19. These individuals had been living in out-of-county facilities for months to years before they died.

At least one other county, Queen Anne’s, has had a similar problem. Almost all of the deaths attributed to Queen Anne’s were also people who lived in that county at an earlier time, but had relocated to nursing homes in other counties well before they became infected and died. Discussions occurred between the Calvert and Queen Anne’s health departments and state officials to revise the method by which deaths are attributed to counties, but this has not resulted in policy changes.

The decision to post the number of deaths that have occurred in Calvert is also to reassure people that the nursing homes in our county have been doing a stellar job protecting their residents and employees. 48% of all COVID-related deaths in Maryland have occurred among nursing home residents (792 deaths). In total, 4,323 nursing home residents across Maryland have tested positive for the virus to date. In the four nursing homes in Calvert, there has been 1 diagnosed case (now recovered) and no deaths.

Our health department’s infectious disease nurses have worked closely with the administrative and nursing staffs of each of our nursing homes since early in the pandemic. Nursing home staff can call for advice any day of the week and anytime of day or night. Every nursing home has done a consistently terrific job of screening employees for signs of illness prior to every shift. Any employee displaying any potential evidence of COVID-19 are excluded from work and tested. Any resident displaying any potential symptoms are isolated from other residents and tested. Staff consistently uses appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). Hand washing and other hygiene measures are emphasized.

How do we know this? Our nursing staff make periodic, unannounced visits to verify employee screening is occurring, proper sanitary procedures are in place, soap and hand sanitizer dispensers are stocked, PPE is being used, and social distancing occurs for both residents and staff. The health department will continue to work with our county’s nursing home professionals to safeguard both residents and staff.

Update: May 1, 2020 5:30 pm

The Calvert Coronavirus Drive-thru Test Site launched on Tuesday. Almost 100 people were tested in our first two days without any delays or problems thanks to great work by the nursing professionals at the Health Department and the Hospital. Results were available to doctors and patients 2 days after Tuesday's tests were performed.

The one frustration is the difficulty people are having as they try to schedule testing appointments. Each person needs to get an order from their doctor or nurse practitioner. The patient then receives a code to schedule her/his appointment on a centralized state website called CRISP. Currently, the appointment spots aren't opened on CRISP until a few days before each testing date. As a result, if someone's doctor places an order for a COVID test on Thursday, the patient may not be able to schedule an appointment to have the test done until the following Sunday or Monday.

On the local level, we have no control over the scheduling site. However, we had discussions with state officials and requested that appointment spots be made available a week prior to the testing dates. They are working toward this. This afternoon, they opened the appointments in CRISP for the coming week. Anyone who has already received a code from their healthcare provider can now go on the CRISP site and schedule for the Prince Frederick location.

For those who tried without success to schedule an appointment time, we share your frustration. Hopefully, the process will be smoother going forward.

April 24, 2020 12:00 pm

The Calvert Health Department has some good news to share. Starting on Tuesday April 28, a coronavirus testing site will be established at the Prince Frederick vehicle emissions inspection facility. Our local health department worked with the Maryland Department of Health to arrange for testing material and logistical support, and now we’re partnering with Calvert Hospital to operate the testing site. We will have the capacity to perform 100 tests each week. If this proves insufficient, we will expand the testing.

Tests will be performed on Tuesdays and Thursdays. In order to arrange for a test, an individual needs to contact her/his primary care provider. Your healthcare provider will then determine if it’s appropriate for you to be tested for coronavirus. If so, she/he will place an order into an electronic medical system. You will then be given information to schedule an appointment for testing. Unless you have an appointment, you cannot be tested. Anyone arriving at the test site without an appointment will be turned away.

The test will be performed while people are in their vehicle. The test kit is then shipped to a laboratory that will send a result to your healthcare provider in 3-5 days. Anyone presenting for testing is considered to be at-risk for having COVID infection. As a result, until you receive results, you should stay home in isolation so you do not unintentionally infect others.

Prince Frederick will be the first rural location in Maryland to provide drive-thru testing for coronavirus. The Calvert Health Department thanks our colleagues at the Maryland Department of Health and at CalvertHealth Medical Center for helping us to make this service available to the residents of our county.

Anyone in need of a new primary care provider can contact:
CalvertHealth Medical Group: 410 414-2778 or calverthealthmedicalgroup.org/.
Calvert Internal Medicine: 410 535-2005 or https://calvertmedicine.com/.
Urgent Care: Dunkirk 410 650-4346 or Solomons 410 394-2800.

April 15, 2020 8:40 am

We are now settling into a new normal. A normal that has greatly and uncomfortably limited our social contact. It’s gotten to the point that kids actually want to go to school, and adults want to sit in cubicles. For most, there’s not much difference between Saturday and Wednesday. And going to the grocery store has shifted from an occasional trip to get necessities to a frequent excuse for getting out of the house.

As a result of chronic overcrowding in grocery and convenience stores, as well as some other retailers, the Health Department has acted on Governor Hogan’s directive to institute new policies to decrease virus transmission. It is strongly recommended that both customers and employees wear basic face masks. People will not be denied food if they refuse to wear a mask, but we ask that everyone place the needs of medically vulnerable neighbors above their personal preferences.

A previous post has instructions and links on how to make your own reusable masks (https://www.calvertcountycovid19.com/post/health-director-dr-polsky-on-wearing-face-masks).

Starting Thursday, stores will be required to properly disinfect all shopping carts or make antiseptic wipes available to customers at the entrance. People waiting in lines at deli counters, checkouts, and other spots in and outside of stores must space at least 6 feet apart. Employees must be allowed to wear face masks and have an opportunity to wash their hands each hour.
Finally, occupancy of retailers will be limited to 5 people per 1,000 square feet.

This is consistent with current policies of Walmart, Giant, and other private corporations as they aim to protect their customers and employees from coronavirus. If people limit their trips to their pre-pandemic habits, this limitation would not be necessary.

For your health, the health of your family members, and the safety of all those in our community, the health department asks that you voluntarily limit trips for groceries to once every 5 days on the following schedule:

  • Last name starting with A-C shop on dates ending with 0 and 5
  • Last name starting with D-G shop on dates ending with 1 and 6
  • Last name starting with H-L shop on dates ending with 2 and 7
  • Last name starting with M-R shop on dates ending with 3 and 8
  • Last name starting with S-Z shop on dates ending with 4 and 9

We all want to get back to our normal lives as soon as possible. Our actions make a difference. Sustaining those actions are the key to lowering our risk of infection and lifting social restrictions. We can’t speed up time, but we can dramatically slow the spread of the virus.

Remember the words of Hippocrates, fittingly taken from the work Of the Epidemics, “First, do no harm.” Limit your trips to the store. Wear a face mask over your mouth and nose while in public. Leave space between yourself and others. Take care of yourself. Take care of your neighbors.

April 8, 2020 10:30 pm

Your actions over these next few days may be the single most important factor in controlling coronavirus transmission for the remainder of the pandemic. Easter and Passover are traditionally times of family celebration and togetherness. This year, what are typically times of joy have the potential to cause unintentional spread of virus and a new spike in disease. The Health Department implores everyone to stay home and celebrate in-person only with people who live in your household. FaceTime, Skype, and other video platforms are the perfect way to share holidays with loved ones outside of your home.

If virus transmission increases over the next week, it will put into motion entirely new rounds of COVID outbreaks that will last through the month of May. This will lead to longer closures of businesses and recreational activities. Regardless of Executive Orders from Governor Hogan and advice from national health experts, reducing further spread of coronavirus ultimately rests on the willingness of our community to minimize contact with those outside of our households.

A faster squelching of coronavirus infections in Calvert will begin to take the burden off of overworked first responders and medical staff. These dedicated volunteers and professionals continue to risk their own health and safety to serve us. The least we can do is limit our trips to the grocery store, maintain distance between ourselves and others, and wash our hands frequently. 

The health department proposes people voluntarily limit trips for groceries to once every 5 days on the following schedule:

Last name starting with A-C shop on days ending with 0 and 5

Last name starting with D-G shop on days ending with 1 and 6

Last name starting with H-L shop on days ending with 2 and 7

Last name starting with M-R shop on days ending with 3 and 8

Last name starting with S-Z shop on days ending with 4 and 9

We all want to get back to our normal routines as soon as possible. Our actions over the next week, and sustaining those efforts through the next month, are the key to getting us there. We can’t speed up time, but we can dramatically slow the spread of the virus. Take care of yourself, your family, and your neighbors. The Health Department wishes everyone a happy and healthy holiday.

Update April 4, 2020 4:00 pm

To Mask or Not to Mask?

When this pandemic ends, most of us will be fine. But some of us won’t. Our priority as a community is to pull together to limit the number of people who will die and the number of families who will be forever altered. That means being willing to adjust our behaviors as new scientific evidence emerges. It also means supporting your neighbors and blocking out social media haters who sow seeds of fear and mistrust.

The latest shift involves facemasks. As many have heard, the CDC now recommends routine use of homemade cloth facemasks in public settings for everyone age 2 and older. Please do not put masks on children under 2 years old.

Evidence through late March indicated that only those who developed symptoms of coronavirus were spreading it to others. Over the past 10 days, increasing evidence has shown that people can transmit the virus 1-2 days before developing symptoms, and as much as 25% of the spread may be due to people who have contracted coronavirus but never develop symptoms.

With this new evidence, the goal of cloth facemasks is to prevent people who feel healthy from unknowingly spreading virus-laden respiratory droplets when they are in public. It should be emphasized that it is currently unknown how effective homemade facemasks will be, so wearing a mask is not a substitute for limiting trips outside of your home, continuing to maintain social distancing, or frequently washing your hands.

If you want to make your own cloth masks, here are some how-to instructions and videos:

First up is a 45 second video from the Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams, who is also a Southern Maryland native (Chopticon High School):
https://youtu.be/tPx1yqvJgf4

Next is a how-to showing 3 different facemask designs and instructions on how to wear and clean a facemask:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html

For those with a sewing machine who want to make a more durable facemask, here is a link with instructions followed by a link for the how-to video:
https://about.kaiserpermanente.org/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4aMCFnK5bHk

If it seems that coronavirus recommendations change more often than your underwear, you’re right. And if you don’t, you may need to reconsider your personal hygiene habits. Expect more changes as researchers continue to discover more about the transmission and severity of coronavirus. Stay safe. We still have a way to go.

March 31, 2020 9:00 am

The Health Department staff understands that stress levels are rising for many Calvert residents. Each day brings more reports of coronavirus infections. New restrictions on people’s lives are announced with little time to prepare. Many households are facing increased financial pressure. Kids are trapped at home and family members are sometimes a little too close for comfort.

In addition to the work the Calvert County Health Department (CCHD) does tracking coronavirus infections and providing guidance for local professionals and general members of the public, CCHD also provides mental health and substance use treatment, as well as help for those at risk of domestic violence. We also have a list of private behavioral health providers in Calvert.

If you or someone you know is struggling emotionally or could use help dealing with substance use problems, please call 410 535-3079. Even in times of office shutdowns, we continue to provide services 6 days/week. We provide both in-person and telehealth care.

We also have a 24-hour hotline for domestic violence and sexual assault victims, as well as for those needing to talk to someone at any hour if they are considering suicide. The 24-hour hotline number is 410 535-1121.

Our Health Department has also developed a new website specifically for coronavirus information. You can link to this site through our original website https://www.calverthealth.org/ (see the link in the top left corner) or directly at https://www.calvertcountycovid19.com/. The new site has updates, local, state, and national case counts, links to the CDC and other trusted sources, and an archive of past Calvert Health Department posts.

March 29, 2020 5:35 pm

Five newly confirmed cases of coronavirus have been reported in the last 24 hours among Calvert residents, bringing our confirmed number of cases to 14. For anyone checking the Maryland state website, it has frequently given incorrect numbers for Calvert and many other counties. Once again, the numbers reflect only those people with laboratory-confirmed cases and do not account for the many people who have been infected but were not tested for coronavirus.

The first person had exposures in Ocean City and the Calvert bowling alley on 3/11 (see previous post). This person is currently hospitalized. Due to the anticipated test result, contacts of this person have already been notified. Another person was at the bowling alley on 3/11 and is currently at home recovering. Contacts of this individual who are at potential risk of transmission are being personally notified.

One of the new cases resulted from travel out of state just prior to the domestic flight restrictions. This person is currently hospitalized. Other than immediate family members, this individual has not had contact with public during the time period of potential transmission.

Another person has no clear source of infection and no travel out of the county. There is no connection between this person and any other known cases. This is an example of why everyone should limit contact outside of their home to essential needs. This person also has not been in public settings since the period of potential viral transmission began. This person has not required hospitalization and is beginning to recover.

The remaining individual had previously been notified of contact with a patient diagnosed with coronavirus while he/she was on duty at a hospital OUTSIDE OF CALVERT. Further contact investigation is currently taking place.

March 27, 2020 7:15 pm

The Health Department has been notified of a 9th case of coronavirus. During an investigation this afternoon, it is likely that transmission occurred either on March 11th during the Wednesday Night Combo Bowling League at Lord Calvert Bowling Lanes in Huntingtown or at a group gathering in Ocean City two days later.
People who attended the gathering in Ocean City are being individually contacted.

For anyone who was present at the Lord Calvert Bowling alley the night of March 11th, or their close contacts, the Health Department recommends the following:
For those who currently have a cough, shortness of breath, or fevers:
Contact your primary care provider or an urgent care. 

  • Please call before going to any medical office office or urgent care.

For those who had a cough, shortness of breath or fevers between 3/13-3/26, but those symptoms have resolved:

  • Email the Calvert Health Department at Calvert.admin@maryland.gov with your contact information and a nurse will be in touch with you on Monday to get additional details.

Since it has been more than two weeks since the possible transmission at the bowling alley, for anyone who was present that night but has not developed any respiratory symptoms or fever, there is no ongoing risk of illness from potential exposure on March 11th

March 27, 2020 10:00 am

One additional Calvert resident was confirmed to have coronavirus, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 8. This resident was contacted immediately after the lab result was available. Since the time this person was capable of transmitting the virus, his/her only contacts were with immediate family members and two other people. All contacts have been reached by Health Department nurses. None are ill, and all are self-isolating for 14 days.

Please keep in mind that Calvert is somewhat atypical in that 2/3 of our residents who are employed work outside of our county. This changes many factors both in exposure to infection and potential for transmission. Most of our residents work in St. Mary’s, Prince George’s County, Washington, DC, Anne Arundel, and Northern Virginia. Other than St. Mary’s, each of these jurisdictions have higher rates of infection than seen in Southern Maryland. This will likely contribute to additional cases in Calvert over the next upcoming weeks and months.

March 26, 2020 1:50 pm

The Health Department asks for patience as we do our best to update the public with statistics related to the coronavirus pandemic. Within the last 24 hours, four additional Calvert County residents were diagnosed with the virus. This brings the County’s total number of diagnosed cases to seven. None of these cases were related. No county residents have died as a result of coronavirus. Statewide, there was a 37% increase in reported cases yesterday. This increase represents a combination of greater community transmission over the past week and modest increases in the number of people being tested.

However, the true extent of virus spread remains unclear because relatively few people who should have been tested have actually been screened. This continues to be due to a nationwide shortage of testing kits and the lack of regional lab capacity to process the tests. It is very likely that hundreds of people have been infected with coronavirus in Southern Maryland this month, but most have had mild-to-moderate illnesses and gone undiagnosed.

As a result of the all but certain prevalence of coronavirus throughout the region, people should continue to take practical precautions. Avoid unnecessary public contact. Protect vulnerable family members and neighbors by offering to go to the grocery store or pharmacy for them. Keep children away from elderly relatives. Use video technology (FaceTime, Skype, etc.) to stay in touch with others.

We realize that some members of the community have been frustrated by the lack of real-time updates on cases. Please understand that our already understaffed agency has received no increase in staffing to handle all of the dramatically increased responsibilities brought on by this pandemic. Every newly diagnosed case needs to be thoroughly evaluated by our clinical staff to make sure that individual, his or her family, and potentially exposed members in the community are receiving proper care and instructions. The Health Department receives non-stop calls from healthcare providers, county agencies, and members of the public requesting advice. We have been the hub of distribution for personal protective equipment for local healthcare providers, nursing facilities, and other essential service providers. We are dealing with frequently changing state and federal mandates affecting everything from health guidance to personnel matters . Many of our staff have shifted to remote work, placing enormous burden on our IT staff. And the list could go on and on, but you get the idea.

We are in the process of revamping our website to provide quicker updates on the number of cases in Calvert and across Maryland. But please keep in mind that these are only the verified cases and do not account for the many additional infections that have gone undetected due to testing shortages. We are also working on a better method of organizing coronavirus web resources for members of the community. We hope to have this functional within the next few days. Again, thank you for your patience as we all work toward keeping our community healthier and safer.

Update March 25, 2020 8:54 pm

An extremely unusual situation has developed over the past five days. The Calvert Health Department has always been truthful with the information we provide. In the interest of transparency, we are notifying you of the following events that have occurred in relation to the 7-11 on Hallowing Point Road.

On March 21st, a person connected to the store was tested for coronavirus. This individual falsified a positive result, leading to a temporary store closure and a swirl of social media conjecture. The result from this test is still pending. The lab to which it was sent to has a current wait time of nearly 10 days. In other words, at the present time it is not know whether that person does or does not have coronavirus.

Before it was realized that the initial report was falsified, another person who works at the store was tested by their family doctor. This test went to a different lab with a much faster turnaround time. That test was reported today did show coronavirus.

Given the very unexpected turn of events, both the store owner and the 7-11 corporation have decided that it’s in the best interest of public health to close the store on Hallowing Point Road and another Calvert store, under the same ownership, located in Prince Frederick. These stores will stay closed for 14 days as per CDC guidance to prevent transmission.

The situation was discussed with the Director of Environmental and Occupational Health at the Maryland Department of Health who agreed with the decision.

Employees are being contacted individually to provide appropriate health precautions. Given the limited amount of direct contact most customers have in a convenience store, the potential for customers to have acquired coronavirus in either store is very low. However, customers who entered either store between March 12th-25th are advised to contact their personal health care provider if they develop any respiratory symptoms or fevers. For those who have no symptoms, over the next two weeks, they should take additional precautions of washing their hands frequently and they may want to avoid contact with people over age 60 and people of any age with weakened immune systems.

The Calvert Health Department will continue to monitor employees’ health over the next 14 days and provide updates if new information becomes available.

March 25, 2020

This morning (March 25) the 4th Calvert County case of coronavirus infection was confirmed. This person is currently recovering at home. As with previous cases, Calvert Health Department nurses have obtained detailed health and contact histories from this person within one hour of notification from the testing laboratory. Our nurses have already reached out to those who had sufficient contact to put them at risk of becoming infected.

The Health Department staff understands how concerning this epidemic is to everyone across Calvert. Regardless of time of day or day of the week, our staff is immediately responding to all positive test results. Our ongoing goal is to notify those at elevated risk of infection as quickly as possible, so those people take appropriate precautions to isolate themselves per CDC guidelines. Along with everyone in the general public limiting contact with others, washing their hands frequently, and staying home if they develop any respiratory symptoms or fevers, we will minimize the spread of coronavirus and prevent severe illnesses and deaths.

Social media continues to churn with posts about individuals who are supposedly infected with coronavirus and settings in which people could have been infected. Most of these posts have been wrong and are leading to unnecessary stress in our community. The Health Department is asking people not to propagate unfounded rumors.

The health and safety of everyone in Calvert is critically important to us. The Health Department staff, along with our families, are part of the Southern Maryland community. We have a professional, ethical duty to provide the most timely and accurate information to everyone. We will continue to personally contact those at increased risk as a result of exposure to confirmed cases of coronavirus infection. At the same time, we have a legal obligation to protect confidential health information. As a result, information on specific cases that is not necessary to protect those at direct risk will not be provided via our website or social media posts.

We hope everyone understands that we are all in this together. That applies to both our physical and emotional well-being. Younger, healthier people should offer to get groceries and medication for family and neighbors who are more at risk of severe illness. For those on social media, stick with verifiable information pertaining to coronavirus and look for funny or calming posts to lift people’s spirits, especially on rainy days like today with so many people are stuck at home.

Please take care of yourselves and those around you. We’d also like to give recognition to the Emergency Department staff, respiratory therapists, and others at Calvert Medical Center as well as EMS workers as they take care of patients during this pandemic. The Health Department will continue to provide updates as they become available.

March 22, 2020

A second Calvert resident has been confirmed to have coronavirus infection. This person did not have any travel outside of the Southern Maryland region over the past month, reinforcing the potential that anyone can become infected through routine contact within our state.

This person has had no contact with vulnerable populations such as those in nursing facilities or daycares. Within 1 hour of being notified of the diagnosis, the Calvert Health Department staff was able to reach each individual who could have been potentially exposed to coronavirus by this individual. Everyone who may be at risk of infection as a result of this exposure is under isolation for a full 14 days.

It is acknowledged that due to the nationwide shortage of test kits, most people who have been infected with coronavirus have gone undiagnosed. Some of these people have no symptoms but can still transmit the infection to others. As Dr. Antony Fauci of the White House Coronavirus Task Force announced yesterday, there is a major national effort to ramp up production of testing material. Once that is accomplished, plans are in place statewide for drive-through testing centers. We will keep you informed as more information becomes available.

Current test sites in Maryland have had very limited capacity to perform tests and have had to frequently shut down operations due to lack of supplies. Dr. Fauci emphasized that until more test kits are being produced, only those with significant illness should be tested.

We urge residents of Calvert to stay at home as much as possible. As this most recent case illustrates, you can become infected through routine contact in Southern Maryland. When you do go out for groceries or medication, wash your hands before leaving the house, use a sanitizing wipe on your shopping cart, and wash your hands again as soon as you return home. If possible, use a credit or debit card to avoid exchanging items with the cashier and please stand 6 feet away from the cashier. It's important to help protect grocery store and pharmacy employees. They are providing critical services for our community.

March 21, 2020

A resident from another county being treated at CalvertHealth Medical Center (CHMC) tested positive for coronavirus on 3/20/20. This patient has been transferred to a larger medical facility to receive ongoing care.

CMHC appropriately consulted with our local health department and the Director of the Maryland Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Outbreak Response Division of the Maryland Department of Health (MDH). All precautions recommended by the CDC and MDH are being followed to protect the health and safety of patients and staff at the hospital. The health department is directly notifying any members of the community who may have had contact with the infected individual.

Both CMHC and the Calvert Health Department realize the implications of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. We are deeply vested in ensuring the best care possible for members of our community. We encourage you to do your part in minimizing further spread of the virus. Please stay home as much as possible. If you have medically frail family members or neighbors, avoid direct contact with them and offer to pick up their groceries and medications so they can avoid contact with the public.

March 19, 2020

The first diagnosed case of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Calvert County has been confirmed. The person with the infection is under medical care and is presently doing well. This person has had minimal contact with others since becoming infected. The family members of this individual are self-isolating themselves per CDC recommendations. Those few individuals outside of the immediate family who have any risk of becoming infected have been contacted by the health department are also self-isolating themselves.

The source of transmission for the Calvert resident was an out-of-state relative. Neither the Calvert resident nor the relative has had any contact with anyone in a local school, daycare, nursing facility, or any other vulnerable population.

We remind everyone to continue to take reasonable precautions against exposure including frequent handwashing, use of disinfectants on high-touch surfaces, and limiting exposure in public places as much as possible.

March 16, 2020

As responses to the coronavirus pandemic continue to evolve, we would like to be sure that owners, managers and employees of restaurants, bars, movie theatres and gyms/fitness centers are aware of Governor Hogan’s recent Executive Order calling for closure of those establishments until further notice with the following exception:

The Executive Order allows carry-out food service (only when promptly taken from the premises), drive-thru service, and delivery of food.

The order also prohibits any gathering of more than 50 people, including social events/weddings, block parties, club or civic meetings, sports events, and religious services during this unprecedented time.

Information can be found on the Governor's website:

https://governor.maryland.gov/2020/03/16/governor-hogan-orders-closure-of-bars-and-restaurants-announces-unprecedented-public-health-surge-to-combat-covid-19-crisis/


This order remains in effect until the state of emergency has been terminated by the Governor. Unfortunately, we cannot predict when this is likely to resolve. We understand that these are difficult times for many in our area. We will continue to update the situation as information becomes available.

March 16, 2020

The current recommendations from the CDC and the Maryland Board of Physicians is that anyone:
- 60 or older, or
- at any age with underlying immune system problems or chronic respiratory ailments contact your primary care provider if you have any symptoms of a respiratory infection. Together with their health care provider, they will decide if testing is needed. For those who meet current criteria, it is important to note that tests are available.

Do NOT call 911 or go to the emergency room unless there is a true health emergency.

For younger and otherwise healthy people, the recommendation for anyone with mild respiratory symptoms is to stay home until symptoms resolve. For younger, healthy people, testing is not recommended because the risk of infecting others is greater than the benefit of being tested. Regardless of age, if anyone has a respiratory infection that is getting progressively worse, they should contact their primary care provider.

Calvert County Health Department is doing everything possible to maintain full service to everyone who receives behavioral health care through our providers. We have every intention of keeping our doors open to those who depend on our services. We have been taking all necessary hygiene measures in our offices to minimize the risk of virus transmission. The Health Department asks that if any of our patients develop symptoms of a respiratory infection, they call our office so we can make sure they get proper care by phone without risking the health of others.

In the unlikely event that buildings need to temporarily close, the Calvert Health Department is planning ways to ensure people can access prescription refills and other vital needs via telehealth or phone lines.

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