Active COVID-19 outbreaks in Maryland increased 29% since last week, Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich shared during a virtual media briefing Wednesday.
Outbreaks increased 42% in childcare settings, 41% in school settings, 24% in group homes, 19% in nursing homes and 16% in assisted living facilities. Metrics like COVID-19 hospitalizations, test positivity and school-related outbreaks are on an upward trend. In the county, hospitalizations have continued to rise since mid-November, Public Health Emergency Preparedness Manager Sean O’Donnell said. 147 residents are hospitalized, compared to 130 patients last Tuesday, Dec. 7 and 66 patients about one month ago. He noted numbers plateaued over the last few days but have been on an upward trajectory. Elrich said hospitalization rates are as high as they were in mid-April.
Some state COVID-19 data has been unavailable for almost two weeks due to a server outage at the Maryland Department of Health (MDH). County officials said they use data from local labs and other partners to monitor metrics.
Maryland has seen around a 40% increase in childcare and school-related outbreaks since last week, Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Dr. Earl Stoddard noted. It comes on the heels of the holidays, indoor events and winter weather, he said, a combination that will last through the end of the year.
“So we’re obviously deeply concerned about what will happen in a few weeks when students return to childcare and/or schools following the end of year holidays,” Stoddard said.
“We’ve been focused a lot on keeping kids in school but obviously we also are deeply concerned about keeping kids healthy.” He emphasized the county has not had conversations with Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) about a potential pause on in-person learning.
COVID-19 seven-day average positivity rates at county testing sites have also increased. The county reported 2.5% test positivity in early November compared to about 6.7% now, O’Donnell said. He said county rates are slightly higher than all county providers collectively, so that number will probably decrease when more data becomes available.
On the Omicron variant, Stoddard said officials continue to closely monitor data coming out of countries like South Africa as well as European countries like the U.K. and Denmark. Officials are planning for continuity of operations for county government.
“We are doing planning around continuity of operations and making sure that we can have a stable workforce to respond to Omicron even as it begins to spread.”
On Dec. 3, Gov. Larry Hogan announced the first three Omicron coronavirus variant cases in Maryland.