As of 7/12/20, there have been 11 COVID-related deaths among Calvert residents. The mortality rate in Calvert is approximately 4.5 times lower than the mortality rate for the state of Maryland as a whole. For those who have seen a higher number of deaths on the state COVID website, it should be noted that their accounting is erroneous. A fuller explanation can be found in our earlier post: https://www.calvertcountycovid19.com/post/new-policy-to-list-covid-19-deaths-on-our-websites
It is difficult to write about this topic because each of those 11 is not a statistic, but a human being with family and friends. However, we understand that members of our community may want to understand more about the most serious consequence of COVID infections. Until this time, there has been no mention of details related to the deaths of Calvert residents because of the need for the Health Department to maintain individual confidentiality. With such few cases in the spring, almost any information could have allowed people to trace details back to a specific person’s death. This remains a concern, so the information that follows is meant to provide a reasonable understanding of trends while continuing to respect the privacy of families that have lost loved ones.
One should keep in mind that there is a limited amount of generalizable information that can be understood from very low incidence of any type of event. Eleven deaths are too few to reach definitive conclusions, but there are several things of note. Age and racial breakdowns are as follows:
55-64 3 deaths
65-74 3 deaths
75+ 5 deaths
African American 7 deaths
White 4 deaths
Four important factors emerge at this point. First, there have not been any deaths of individuals below the age of 55 in Calvert. However, throughout the rest of Maryland, close to 300 people under 55 have died of COVID-related infections. Second, each deceased Calvert resident had at least one underlying chronic health condition. Third, the staff at each of our county’s nursing homes and assisted living facilities have done a consistently great job in protecting their residents. And fourth, we are witnessing yet another clear sign of the disproportionate health burden carried by African Americans.
Statewide, 31% of the population is African American and 40% of COVID deaths have occurred in this population. In Calvert, African Americans account for 13% of the population and 64% of COVID deaths. Although it would be unwise to draw definitive conclusions from our local sample size, national data has made it clear that greater attention is needed to chronic disease management, historic inequities, and continuing social stressors that impact African Americans.
Each of us should reflect on how we can take action to make our community a more just and equitable place for every child and adult regardless of race or ethnicity. COVID is the latest indicator of a deeper problem that we continue to grapple with as Americans. Perhaps posterity will look back at 2020 as a turning point in U.S. history. We all have an opportunity to make a difference.