covid

(July 24, 2020) Worcester County has the fastest growing rate of new coronavirus cases in Maryland, according to health department agencies and hospitals. 

According to the Worcester County Health Department, 80 cases were diagnosed from last Friday to this Wednesday. The health department’s coronavirus update website was down on Thursday morning. 

This brings the county’s total cases since March to 435. There have been 18 deaths in the county from coronavirus. 

On Tuesday, Maryland was added to New York’s list of states that must quarantine for two weeks upon arrival. This mandate is effective for entry into New Jersey and Connecticut as well. 

States are added to this list if 10 percent of its population tests positive for coronavirus. 

Susan Jones, director of the Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association, said they have had cancellations from New York and New Jersey visitors. 

 “They are concerned that if they travel here and have to go back and quarantine, they will not be able to go back to work,” Jones said. “Understandable from their point, but certainly not in terms of tourism. We will need to figure out how to replace that visitor spending.” 

Nancy Schwendeman, interim director of the Ocean City Chamber of Commerce, agreed that Ocean City will see some effect. 

“However, since Ocean City is the perfect ‘drive to’ destination, we are still seeing visitors from a variety of states,” Schwendeman said. 

She reminded everyone that this is not a mandate from the Maryland government. 

“Guests and locals are still encouraged to wear a mask, practice social distancing, wash and sanitize their hands and follow all recommendations from the CDC [Center for Disease and Control] guidelines.” 

Meanwhile, the Berlin Nursing Home has had 18 deaths, but one was a resident of another county. One of the deaths is listed as “probable” because the individual was never tested.

The nursing home has recorded 33 staff cases and 68 resident cases, according to the Maryland Department of Health. According to its website, the nursing home has 165 resident beds.

Multiple requests over the past couple months for comment from the nursing home have not produced a response.

There are 193 cases in the Berlin and Ocean Pines 21811 zip code, 117 cases in the Ocean City 21842 zip code, 44 in the Snow Hill 21863 zip code and 70 in the Pocomoke City 21851 zip code.

A zip code must have at least eight cases to be listed.

A total of 289 people have been released from public monitoring. Worcester has conducted over 6,000 coronavirus tests.

As of Thursday, Maryland had 80,836 cases.

As of Wednesday afternoon, there were nine patients at Atlantic General Hospital with coronavirus – five in the intensive care unit with one on a ventilator and four in the med/surg unit, according to Toni Keiser, vice president of public relations. One patient is suspected to have coronavirus, but has not yet been confirmed. 

The hospital has cared for four patients who have come off a ventilator and has released 29 patients total with coronavirus. 

Numerous restaurants and bars in Ocean City have temporarily closed after employee coronavirus tests returned positive. The health department said these establishments are not required to close if an employee is positive. 

The department has had 160 complaints of covid-19 guidelines violations, according to Public Information Officer Travis Brown. Some of these are multiple complaints against one establishment and not all are necessarily valid. 

“It’s difficult to draw direct connections with businesses and cases but non-compliance with social distancing and face covering mandates greatly increases the risk of spreading covid-19,” Brown said. “We want to remind the public to continue to wear face coverings, practice social distancing, stay home if sick and frequently wash your hands.” 

To report a restaurant or bar for not following safety guidelines, call environmental health at 410-352-3234. 

Health Officer Becky Jones said that she’s not surprised that there’s an uptick in cases, as there’s more testing available. However, Worcester’s positivity rate out of those tested in 6.93 percent, the second highest in the state followed by Dorchester County. 

“Focus in on the numbers that have recovered, that are doing well that they have been released from isolation and quarantine,” Jones said. “Universally, I think that number is not being looked at.” 

It should be noted that the long-term effects of covid-19 are unknown. 

As of Thursday, next door Wicomico had 1,206 cases and Sussex County has 5,375 cases as of Wednesday.

According to the Maryland Department of Health, the state positivity rate was at 4.56 percent as of Thursday.

The health department has two free testing sites at its location in Pocomoke City on Walnut Street and at the West Ocean City Park N’ Ride. The testing is for adults at least 18 years old. Those who want to get tested should bring ID. 

Testing is available for Worcester County residents only at the Pocomoke location on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The West Ocean City testing site is open Monday and Wednesdays from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

To schedule an appointment, call 410-632-1100, ext. 1119.

To treat patients, Atlantic General is asking for plasma donations from coronavirus survivors. This is for a Mayo Clinic study through the Blood Bank of Delmarva.

The first patient transfusion took place on April 24. Donors must have tested positive for the virus and have been symptom-free for 28 days. Those who have been symptom-free for 14 days may also donate if they have tested negative.

When a case is confirmed positive, the health department conducts contact tracing to inform individuals and businesses that may have come into contact with the positive case.

If someone suspects they may have the virus, they should call their primary care provider or the health department. Do not show up unannounced to a medical facility.

The Worcester County Health Department has a hotline Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to determine if a person should be tested. Call 410-632-1100 and select option eight.

For general information on the coronavirus call the health department 24/7 at 410-632-4321 or visit worcesterhealth.org. View updates from Atlantic General at atlanticgeneral.org/patients-visitors/covid-19-updates/.

To track Maryland cases, visit coronavirus.maryland.gov/.

To donate plasma, go to delmarvablood.org/cpdonor or call 1-888-825-6638.

Coronavirus cases in Worcester County timeline:

March 19 – Worcester County confirms its first case of coronavirus, a man in his 30s.

March 21 – A woman in her 20s tests positive.

March 30 – A third positive case diagnosed out of state is confirmed.

April 1 – A woman in her 20s tests positive.

April 2 – A man in his 40s tests positive; health department releases three cases from public monitoring.

April 4 – A man in his 40s and a woman in her 60s test positive.

April 5 – A man in his 60s and a woman in her 30s test positive.

April 6 – A man in his 40s tests for a total of 10 positive cases in Worcester; four total cases have been released from public monitoring.

April 9 – Six more people test positive.

April 13 – Five more people test positive.

April 15 – An out-of-county resident tests positive.

April 16 – Three more people test positive for a total of 25 cases; nine individuals have been released from public monitoring.

April 20 – Worcester counts a total of 33 cases; 11 individuals have been released from public monitoring.

April 21 – One more person tests positive; 13 individuals have been released from public monitoring.

April 24 – Five more cases diagnosed; 18 cases have been released from monitoring.

April 25 – Two cases are diagnosed.

April 26 – Two cases are diagnosed for a total of 48.

April 27 – Five people test positive.

April 28 – One person tests positive; 23 cases have been released from monitoring; a woman in her 80s has died.

April 29 – Worcester has 55 confirmed cases.

April 30 – Six people test positive for a total of 61 cases; 26 cases have been released from monitoring; a second case dies.

May 3 – Worcester counts 75 cases; 29 have been released from monitoring; a third death is probable.

May 4 – Five more people are diagnosed.

May 5 – One more person is diagnosed; 40 have been released from monitoring.

May 6 – Five more cases are confirmed; three more people are released from monitoring.

May 7 – Ten more people are diagnosed for 96 total; 47 total have been released from monitoring.

May 8 – Two people are diagnosed; one is released from monitoring.

May 9 – Four people are diagnosed; three are released from monitoring; another death is recorded.

May 10 – Four people are diagnosed; one is released from monitoring.

May 11 – Seven people are diagnosed.

May 12 – One person is diagnosed.

May 13 – 11 people are diagnosed for a total of 125; eight people are released from monitoring.

May 14 – Two people are diagnosed; seven people are released from monitoring.

May 15 - Four people are diagnosed; four are released from monitoring.

May 17 - Six people are diagnosed; sixteen people are released from monitoring; six people total have died.

May 18 - 27 people are diagnosed for a total of 164; four people are released from monitoring.

May 19 - Two more people are released from monitoring.

May 20 – Five people are diagnosed; one more person is released from monitoring; eight people total have died.

May 21 – 12 more people are diagnosed for a total of 181; three more people are released from monitoring for a total of 96.

May 23 – Three people are released from monitoring.

May 24 – Three more people are diagnosed; two more people die for a total of 10 deaths.

May 25 – Two more people are diagnosed; one person dies for a total of 11 deaths.

May 26 – Eight more people are diagnosed; five more people are released from monitoring.

May 27 – Three more people are released from monitoring for a total of 107.

May 28 – Five more people are diagnosed for a total of 198.

May 29 - Eight more people are diagnosed; one more person dies for 13 total; nine more people have been released from monitoring.

May 30 - Four more people test positive; 27 people are released from monitoring.

May 31 - Four more people test positive; one more person is released from monitoring.

June 1 - Three more people test positive.

June 2 - Two more people test positive; Six more people are released from monitoring.

June 3 – One person is released from public monitoring.

June 4 – Four more people test positive for a total of 223; one more person dies for a total of 14; four more people are released from monitoring for a total of 152.

June 7 - Nine more people are diagnosed; six more people are released from monitoring; one more person dies for a total of 15.

June 8 - Three more people are diagnosed; Five more people are released from monitoring.

June 9 - Four more people are diagnosed.

June 10 - Three more people are diagnosed for a total of 243.

June 11 – Three more people are released from monitoring for a total of 171.

June 12 - Three more cases are confirmed; four more people are released from monitoring; one person dies for a total of 16.

June 13 - Seven more cases are confirmed; five more cases are released from monitoring. 

June 14 - Three more cases are confirmed; one more person dies for a total of 17.

June 15 - Two more cases are diagnosed; four more people are released from monitoring.

June 16 - Two more people are released from monitoring.

June 17 - Seven more cases for a total of 265; four more are released from monitoring for a total of 190.

June 18 – Two more cases for a total of 267; two more released for a total of 192.

June 21 - Four more cases are confirmed; six more are released.

June 22 - Seven more cases are confirmed; eight are released.

June 23 - Three more cases are confirmed; four more are released for 210.

June 24 - One more case is confirmed for 278.

June 26 - Four more cases for 282; six are released from monitoring for a total of 216.

June 28 - 10 people are released from monitoring.

June 29 - Four more cases are confirmed; 12 are released from monitoring.

July 1 - Three more cases for 289; three more released for 231.

July 2 – One more is released from recovery for a total of 232. 

July 3 - Two more cases are confirmed; two more are released from public monitoring. 

July 4 - One more case is confirmed; one is released from public monitoring. 

July 5 - Four more cases are confirmed; two more are released from public monitoring. 

July 6 - One more case is confirmed; three more are released from public monitoring. 

July 7 - Four more cases are confirmed; five are released from public monitoring. 

July 9 – Ten more cases are confirmed for a total of 311; four are released from public monitoring for 248. 

July 10 – Two people are released from public monitoring. 

July 11 – Three more cases are confirmed. 

July 13 – Eight cases are confirmed; 10 are released from public monitoring; one person dies for a total of 18. 

July 14 – 10 cases are confirmed; four are released from public monitoring. 

July 15 – Seven cases are confirmed for a total of 339; two are released from public monitoring for a total of 266. 

July 16 – 16 cases are confirmed for a total of 355; three are released from public monitoring for a total of 269. 

July 17 – 11 more cases are confirmed; four are released from public monitoring. 

July 20 – 52 more cases are confirmed; seven are released from public monitoring. 

July 21 – 11 more cases are confirmed; nine are released from public monitoring for a total of 289. 

July 22 – Seven more cases are confirmed for 435.

Elizabeth covers Worcester County issues for Ocean City Today. In 2018, she graduated from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa with a bachelor of arts. After graduation, Elizabeth spent a year with Lutheran Volunteer Corps in Wilmington, Delaware.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.