EASTON — For several days, the county’s positivity rate for COVID-19 cases has been the highest in the state at 8.3%. The positivity rate is a rolling 7-day average calculated by the Maryland Department of Health that indicates the number of people who test positive in relationship to the number of people tested.
“Talbot County is leading the state of Maryland, and that is not a good thing,” Health Officer Dr. Fredia Wadley said.
By comparison, the state’s positivity rate was 4.3% on Friday.
“For many weeks, the number of cases in Talbot County and on the Eastern Shore was relatively low,” Dr. Wadley said. “That is no longer true. The number of cases is increasing faster now than it has at any time during this pandemic.”
Talbot County’s total number of cases continues to rise, with a total of 226 reported as of Friday, July 17. Maryland had 707 new cases and 12 additional deaths, for statewide totals of 76,373 and 3,227 respectively. Hospitalizations are currently holding steady at 434. The virus is affecting the county’s racial groups differently, as is the case statewide and nationally.
In Talbot County, 19.5% of those who have tested positive are African American, 28.7% are Hispanic, 35.2% are Caucasian, and 3.1% are other ethnicities. In 13.5% of the cases, it was impossible to determine race or ethnicity. Cases continue to rise fastest in the Hispanic community. The Health Department is partnering with the Chesapeake Multicultural Resource Center in an effort to communicate directly to the county’s immigrant community.
“More than half of our cases are coming from the Hispanic community right now,” Dr. Wadley said. “We plan to begin visiting Hispanic churches to better communicate methods for slowing the spread of the virus, and we are continuing to provide assistance when we have to isolate or quarantine a family member.”
Dr. Wadley is also working with elected officials and law enforcement to determine what regulatory action can be taken to help flatten the curve in Talbot County. The Health Department will begin to take action against food establishments that are repeatedly found to be operating in an unsafe manner during the COVID-19 pandemic, including potentially suspending the licenses of repeat offenders.
“It’s more important than ever that we continue doing the things that we know work,” Dr. Wadley said. “People are tired of wearing masks, using hand sanitizer at every turn, and staying six feet away from people. But I cannot stress it enough. These are the measures that significantly reduce the likelihood of you getting sick.”
The Talbot County Health Department continues to operate a test site in the parking lot at Easton High School on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. The hours changed recently, and the site is now open from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. because of the heat. Call (410) 819-5632 to make an appointment.