The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Talbot County has jumped in the last 12 days, while the county’s positivity rate also has significantly increased.
As of Wednesday, July 1, Talbot County had 133 cases; 20 percent of those in the last 12 days. Meanwhile, the county’s 7-day average positivity rate rose from 0.5% to 3.4%.
Talbot’s health officer says more cases have been linked to social gatherings and warns that local residents relaxing their safety precautions is a major factor in the upticks.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over,” Dr. Fredia Wadley, Talbot County health officer, says. “We need to stop pretending that it is.”
Wadley joins the chorus of health officials warning that relaxed restrictions and increased travel over the July 4th holiday will accelerate an increase in COVID-19 cases.
Until recently, the number of new cases in Talbot County was low in comparison to surrounding counties on the Eastern Shore and other rural counties around the state. But the county’s numbers have surged in the past week, with an additional 21 confirmed cases. The county added 4 more cases today.
“We did not even have a week with that many cases in the first wave that peaked in May,” Wadley says.
Despite the alarming increase, Talbot’s positivity rate remains below Maryland’s average. As of June 30, the state’s seven-day average positivity rate was 4.72%.
While Talbot County’s growing numbers are partially related to increased testing, the rise in cases is also being caused by a return to “business as usual” for many. Adherence to social distancing measures and mask usage have dropped as businesses have reopened.
“We are finding more confirmed cases of COVID-19 related to family reunions, trips to the beach, and other social gatherings,” Dr. Wadley confirms. “But it’s not just where you have been that increases your risk of infection. It’s where everyone within six feet of you has been over the past two weeks — especially if those people were not wearing facial coverings.
“Anyone who has been part of a large group event, visited a crowded beach or boardwalk, had a recent
commercial air flight, participated in multiple smaller but varied social groups over the past two weeks, or has a household member that has done any of these should consider being tested,” she adds.
Talbot County Council President Corey Pack urges residents to remain vigilant over the holiday weekend and throughout the coming weeks as the virus remains a threat.
“We are asking our citizens to listen to the health experts and take their advice seriously,” he says. “The recommended precautions are fairly simple, but they can save your life or the life of a loved one.”
Maryland’s number of new COVID-19 cases is holding steady, but other states have not been as fortunate. Last week, 29 states and U.S. territories were showing an increase in the number of new cases. Some of those states are concerned about their surge capacity because of the increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations, a statistic that typically lags behind the increase of new cases.
“Since we have no really effective drugs for COVID-19, the world is praying for an effective vaccine by the first part of 2021,” Wadley says. “Even if we are fortunate and have a vaccine by then, it will take months to vaccinate those willing to be vaccinated. Until then, we only have non-pharmaceutical interventions proven to prevent many cases of COVID-19. Those include social or physical distancing, wearing facial covering, and good hand hygiene.
“We have the testing capability now to test when anyone has symptoms,” Wadley says. “We have the
contact tracing capacity for another surge. We have the surge capacity at our hospital and adequate stores of personal protective equipment. Unfortunately, it appears that we may need all of these if we continue to pretend that the pandemic is over.”
The Talbot County Health Department’s testing site at Easton High School is open from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Identification confirming Talbot County residency is required. Call 410-819-5632 for an appointment. There is no charge for the testing.
For complete updates on Talbot County’s coronavirus response, visit www.talbotcovid19.org.