ELKTON — After a period of relative quiet on the COVID-19 front in Cecil County, health officials announced Thursday that they are seeing a spike in the confirmed numbers of cases as well as an up-tick in deaths.
With September not yet over, it was reported that there have been 169 new cases this month, which is more than the 158 in the entire month of August.
Looking at the 7-day positivity rate, that number rose from 2% on Aug. 31 to 5.3% on Sept. 17. That is above the 5% positivity rate benchmark established by the World Health Organization.
Since the first COVD-19 death was reported April 1, Cecil County has lost 42 residents to the novel coronavirus. Just over 16% of the county has been tested, with 964 testing positive.
Lauren Levy, Cecil County’s Health Officer, doesn’t like what this indicates.
“These latest numbers suggest that COVID-19 is spreading rapidly in the community,” Levy said in the Thursday announcement.
Levy urged residents to continue following CDC guidelines to reduce the risk of spread.
“Please continue to do what is needed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect friends and family – wear a mask whenever you leave the house, practice social distancing, and avoid large gatherings. These steps are critically important,” Levy said.
Additionally, wash hands often, avoid touching the mouth, nose and eyes and self isolate if sick.
Levy said now what is happening is community spread, not outbreaks as had been seen at the start of the pandemic. This makes getting the seasonal flu shot important.
“We really want people to get a flu vaccine this year more than any other year,” Levy said, adding that will make it one less illness to diagnose should a person present with influenza-like symptoms.
With Cecil County Public Schools in session, Levy said there is no word of any cases in the schools and the health department is working to help each school adhere to safety protocols.
“We’re working with the schools to make sure (flu shots) are offered to the school population,” Levy said.
Free testing is still available to anyone, regardless of whether symptoms are present and without a doctor’s order needed. While an appointment is highly recommended, Levy said it’s not required.
“We are at the (Vehicle Emission Inspection Program) through the end of September,” she said, adding Union Hospital also continues to offer COVID testing.
“We will move our testing to the health department in October, testing every Tuesday from 3 until 7 p.m.,” she said. Two Saturday testing events — Oct. 10 and Oct. 24 — will also be at the health department at 401 Bow Street in Elkton from 8 a.m. until noon.