Health Department and Commissioners Announce Contact Tracing, Testing Plans for COVID-19
Westminster, MD (April 29, 2020) – In support of Governor Hogan’s Maryland Strong Roadmap to Recovery outlining steps for a slow, phased reopening of the state, the Carroll County Health Department and Board of Commissioners announced plans to increase local capacity for testing, contact tracing, and other critical components of the local COVID-19 response.
To expand novel coronavirus testing, the Health Department is working closely with the state to source additional tests and other materials. They have trained staff to perform the diagnostic nasal swab tests. The Health Department is also collaborating with state and local partners to develop plans for a new testing site, possibly opening in early May. As testing capacity increases, Carroll County will likely see an increase in positive cases; this may not indicate an increased spread of the virus, but rather the result of more testing.
Contact tracing will be coordinated closely with testing. Health Department staff will contact all residents who test positive for COVID-19, to offer information, support, and guidelines for isolation. Staff will also interview positive cases about their close contacts. Close contacts include people who live in the same household as the positive case, people who were less than 6 feet from the positive case for 10 minutes or more while they were infectious, and people who are caring for a positive case without taking appropriate precautions.
These close contacts are at higher risk of becoming sick with COVID-19 and infecting others even if they do not feel sick or have any symptoms. Health Department contact tracers will call each close contact to give them resources and guidelines for quarantine, to help them protect their families and the community from COVID-19.
“It is going to be challenging for people to quarantine and isolate. But until we have a treatment and a vaccine, it is the best way for us to keep flattening the curve – slowing the spread of the virus and preventing our health system from being overwhelmed,” said Ed Singer, Carroll County’s Health Officer. “Contact tracing will save lives.”
“It’s critical for us to work together as a community to help prevent the spread of COVID-19,” stated Commissioner President Stephen Wantz. “I want to encourage all our residents to assist the Health Department by participating in contact tracing and answering questions honestly, if contacted, to help interrupt the transmission of the disease to others.”
In addition to testing and contact tracing, the Health Department and Carroll County Government continue to secure more personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care facilities, first responders, funeral homes, and other groups. The Health Department’s Logistics Team is sourcing PPE from local, state, and federal sources and working with facilities on conservation strategies to reduce waste.
The Health Department and Carroll County Government are also working collaboratively with Carroll Hospital Center to increase the availability of surge capacity by coordinating plans to support surge spaces within the hospital’s facility. This includes coordination of logistical and staffing needs.
County residents should continue to abide by Governor Hogan's executive orders related to COVID-19. Social distancing, face coverings, hand-washing, and other actions will continue to be extremely important when the county and state gradually reopen. “Carroll County residents and businesses have been largely cooperative with all the guidelines,” said Singer. “They have done a great job protecting their community and we are very grateful for their patience and support – #CarrollCARES.”
For more information on COVID-19, visit the Carroll County Health Department’s website at cchd.maryland.gov/covid-19/ and the Maryland State Department of Health at https://coronavirus.maryland.gov/ Residents can also call the COVID-19 call center at 410-876-4848 between 8 am – 5 pm daily.