The Health Department asks for patience as we do our best to update the public with statistics related to the coronavirus pandemic. Within the last 24 hours, four additional Calvert County residents were diagnosed with the virus. This brings the County’s total number of diagnosed cases to seven. None of these cases were related. No county residents have died as a result of coronavirus. Statewide, there was a 37% increase in reported cases yesterday. This increase represents a combination of greater community transmission over the past week and modest increases in the number of people being tested.
However, the true extent of virus spread remains unclear because relatively few people who should have been tested have actually been screened. This continues to be due to a nationwide shortage of testing kits and the lack of regional lab capacity to process the tests. It is very likely that hundreds of people have been infected with coronavirus in Southern Maryland this month, but most have had mild-to-moderate illnesses and gone undiagnosed.
As a result of the all but certain prevalence of coronavirus throughout the region, people should continue to take practical precautions. Avoid unnecessary public contact. Protect vulnerable family members and neighbors by offering to go to the grocery store or pharmacy for them. Keep children away from elderly relatives. Use video technology (FaceTime, Skype, etc.) to stay in touch with others.
We realize that some members of the community have been frustrated by the lack of real-time updates on cases. Please understand that our already understaffed agency has received no increase in staffing to handle all of the dramatically increased responsibilities brought on by this pandemic. Every newly diagnosed case needs to be thoroughly evaluated by our clinical staff to make sure that individual, his or her family, and potentially exposed members in the community are receiving proper care and instructions. The Health Department receives non-stop calls from healthcare providers, county agencies, and members of the public requesting advice. We have been the hub of distribution for personal protective equipment for local healthcare providers, nursing facilities, and other essential service providers. We are dealing with frequently changing state and federal mandates affecting everything from health guidance to personnel matters . Many of our staff have shifted to remote work, placing enormous burden on our IT staff. And the list could go on and on, but you get the idea.
We are in the process of revamping our website to provide quicker updates on the number of cases in Calvert and across Maryland. But please keep in mind that these are only the verified cases and do not account for the many additional infections that have gone undetected due to testing shortages. We are also working on a better method of organizing coronavirus web resources for members of the community. We hope to have this functional within the next few days. Again, thank you for your patience as we all work toward keeping our community healthier and safer.