The St. Mary’s commissioners convened as the county’s board of health during their regular business meeting on Tuesday, and received a public health update as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the county.
Dr. Meena Brewster, health officer for the county, told commissioners they have been working for over three months now to contain the virus, and although they learned a tremendous amount, there is also “a lot we don’t know yet and we need to move forward cautiously,” she said.
As of Tuesday morning, positive cases in the county had reached 518 with 24 fatalities, and Brewster said she expects cases to “continue to rise as we expand access to testing,” she said.
Brewster discussed several widespread testing initiatives including the testing of all local long-term care faculties and the homeless population residing at an encampment in Lexington Park. She also mentioned the Charlotte Hall Veterans Home is on its third round of widespread testing, where 196 of the residents as well as 78 staff members have tested positive, and the health department is working on beginning testing on emergency services personnel.
There is a Mechanicsville Volunteer Fire Department free drive-thru testing event today, Wednesday, Brewster told commissioners, where county residents will have the opportunity to get tested.
Regarding disease investigation, Brewster said the health department has been spending a lot of time with disease tracing so it can better isolate those who are ill and as local businesses begin to open, they are working to help them do so safely.
“It’s still safer for residents to telework, stay home and wear a cloth face mask” to continue to help with disease prevention, she said, adding that being outside is always better when in groups and groups should still not exceed 10 people.
Commissioner Mike Hewitt (R) asked if anyone can get tested now, with the health officer responding they are “really trying to give the opportunity to get tested” to residents but “testing is not limitless.”
Hewitt also asked whether hospitalization rates have been increasing, and Brewster said in St. Mary’s County, hospitalizations have remained steady over the past few weeks.
“So we essentially flattened the curve?” he asked, with Brewster responding yes.