COVID-19 instances climbing slowly in Frederick County | Coronavirus


As the weather warms up in Frederick County, transmission rates of the coronavirus are gradually increasing.

The local positivity rate — a comparison of positive COVID-19 tests against the total number of tests performed — was 5.25% as of Friday, the latest day for which county data was available.

That metric was 2.91% as of April 1, according to the Frederick County Health Department’s COVID-19 Dashboard.

The county has recorded more daily coronavirus cases for the past two weeks than it did earlier this month, Health Department spokeswoman Rissah Watkins said.

The growing number of cases could be due to the numerous religious holidays that have taken place this month, she said. People may have felt more comfortable gathering together to celebrate Ramadan, Passover and Easter than they have in the past two years.

Also, many Frederick County families may have traveled last week during the school district’s spring break, Watkins said.

The extremely contagious version of the Omicron variant, BA.2, which now accounts for about three-quarters of COVID-19 cases nationwide, is local, Watkins said.

About 70% of cases in Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, DC, were caused by BA.2 in the week ended April 16, according to estimates by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

White House Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anthony Fauci, has estimated that BA.2 is about 50 percent more transmissible than the Omicron variant that caused COVID-19 cases to skyrocket this winter and overwhelmed hospitals nationwide.

During this surge, the positivity rate in Frederick County peaked at 33.55%, but fell below 5% in about a month and a half.

This time last year, positivity rates in Frederick County were a little lower than they are now — reading 4.74% on April 22nd.

But the county recorded 19 deaths from the virus last April, many more than planned this month. As of Friday, with one week left in the month, four people had died from COVID-19 in Frederick County.

The number of coronavirus patients at Frederick Health Hospital has remained relatively low this month, with three being treated, the county said Friday.

But it’s still a good time to get a second booster shot if you’re eligible, Watkins said. The CDC recommends revaccination for certain immunocompromised individuals and individuals over the age of 50 who received their first booster dose at least four months ago.

Free rapid self-administered COVID-19 tests are still available at county public libraries. Take one, but don’t horde them, Watkins said — everyone has a cold this time of year.

With few restrictions and regulations still in place to slow the spread of the virus, it’s up to each person to determine their own level of risk and comfort, Watkins said.

She encouraged people to go outside. It’s a great way to reduce your chances of transmitting coronavirus and improve your physical and mental health, she said.

Just remember your sunscreen and water bottle, she said.

Follow Angela Roberts on Twitter: @24_angier