As the state of Maryland experiences a surge in confirmed coronavirus cases, counties in western Maryland are seeing rates more than three times higher than the statewide 7-day rolling average, according to the Maryland Department of Health COVID-19 Dashboard.
On November 20, Allegany County reported an average positivity rate four times higher than the statewide average at 145.26 per 100,000 people, according to the dashboard. Garrett County’s average was 101.92 positive cases per 100,000 people. The statewide rolling average for the day was 36.19 per 100,000 people, according to the dashboard.
This surge occurred on the same day Governor Larry Hogan announced additional restrictions, including a 10 p.m. closure for all restaurants and bars, a 50% capacity cap for retail and religious establishments and the suspension of hospital visitation.
Ten days earlier, when Hogan first announced reductions in response to the fall surge, Allegany County reported an average of 63.09 cases, three times higher than the statewide 21.13 average reported for that day, according to the dashboard. At that time, Garrett County’s average fell right below the state’s average, but three days later a steep increase in cases started.
As of December 2, Allegany County reported a 7-day rolling average case rate of 148.51 per 100,000 people while the statewide rolling average was 35.97 per 100,000 people, according to the dashboard.
7-Day Rolling Average per 100K by County
Using data from the Maryland Department of Health, the map below can be toggled to show the 7-day rolling average per 100,000 people by county across three important dates this fall. September 30 marked the beginning of the statewide surge in confirmed cases. On November 10, Governor Larry Hogan introduced the first set of restrictions in response to this surge, followed by additional restrictions on November 20.
Since the surge in cases began in Allegany County in mid-October, the county health department has posted regular updates on its Facebook page informing the public of the county’s rising number of cases and ways to mitigate risk, including wearing a mask, avoiding large gatherings and cooperating with contact tracing efforts.
Comments from residents on the Facebook posts include questions about when more testing centers are going to open (6-hour wait times have been reported at some locations), whether students at Frostburg State University are to blame and overall confusion about mitigation measures in the county.
A recent county measure, announced on Monday, discontinued all Allegany County Transit bus routes starting December 1, according to the county’s website.
In response to “county health metrics”, Allegany students had the Monday following Thanksgiving off and the remainder of the week’s classes were held virtually. Allegany County Public Schools will announce tomorrow if students will be returning to the classroom next week, according to their website.
The school district started the 2020-2021 academic year with the hopes of gradually rolling out a hybrid model where students attend class in-person some days, and others are attended virtually. However, a little more than a month after this transition began, the county was already returning students to a completely online environment following a staff shortage and a rise in the number of cases, according to several press releases.