Prince George’s County, Maryland, is on its way to a modified reopening June 1, provided current coronavirus data trends continue, County Executive Angela Alsobrooks said Thursday.
COVID-19 positivity rates, hospitalizations and deaths in the county have been declining, Alsobrooks’ office said in a news release.
“After reviewing recent data, we are cautiously moving toward a modified phase one reopening by June 1,” Alsobrooks said. “While the data has improved, we are not out of the woods yet. I urge all Prince Georgians to exercise caution, use good judgment and observe the stay-at-home order this holiday weekend so that we can stay on track to begin reopening by our target date.”
Last week, Prince George’s County’s stay-at-home order had been extended to June 1.
Coronavirus hospitalizations hit an average high the week of May 3 with 244 new patients a day, the county said, but a decline started May 10 with an average 208 new patients. Since then, the average number of patients has decreased 25% since its peak, down to 184.
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Positivity rates are down to 28%, a decrease from a high of 41% the week of April 19.
Deaths are also down from a high of 72 during the week of April 19 to 66 the week of May 3. And there were 59 deaths the week of May 10, according to preliminary results.
However, coronavirus-related illness is still the county’s leading cause of death, now surpassing heart disease and cancer.
Statewide coronavirus contact tracing
Statewide coronavirus contact tracing will be fully operational next week across all 24 jurisdictions in Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan announced Thursday.
The state has quintupled its investigation capacity, and will have more than 1,400 case investigators statewide, according to a news release.
“To support our local health officials, the state has built a robust contact tracing operation and massively expanded Maryland’s disease investigation capacity,” Hogan said. “This will be a partnership across all 24 jurisdictions, and an all-hands-on deck effort to ensure health officials on the ground can trace and isolate the virus.”
With state support, local health officials will be able to track 1,000 cases and 10,000 contacts on a daily basis, Hogan’s office said.
Another development is the COVID Link platform, which Maryland calls “a state-of-the-art data management platform, to facilitate the state’s contact tracing partnership with local officials.”
The platform will be able to:
- Customize interview questions, call flows and interviewer screens;
- Determine call time frames, escalation points and follow-ups;
- Manipulate real-time data and view detailed metrics;
- Integrate with Google API, AWS and call center platforms;
- Digitally intake contacts, support self-reporting and customize forms.
Part of Maryland’s program also involves phone calls to residents.
“When the phone rings, the caller ID will read ‘MD COVID.’ Depending on whether the contact investigator is calling directly from NORC or a local health department, there will also be a list of phone numbers provided to verify the caller’s identity. They will ask about one’s health, any potential symptoms and the duration of those symptoms,” Hogan’s office said.
“They may ask about an individual’s whereabouts and interactions for a specific period of time. Guidance will be provided regarding self-isolation and monitoring for symptoms. They will ask for verification of date of birth and additional contact information, and if an individual has already tested positive for COVID-19, they may request details regarding that test.”
Officials warn to be wary of scams. Investigators will never ask for a Social Security number, financial or bank account information, or personal details unrelated to COVID-19. They will also not ask for photographs or videos, passwords or payment.
Hogan’s office said privacy protection will be adhered to, even if personal information is requested. An infected person’s name is not disclosed, and minimal information is conveyed.
Md. Health Dept. reminding parents to keep kids’ vaccinations up-to-date
The Maryland Department of Health wants to remind parents that they should still keep up their kids’ vaccinations amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The agency cites data that shows a significant decrease in pediatric vaccination rates in not just Maryland but across the U.S. since a national emergency was declared March 13.
“There is no vaccine yet to prevent COVID-19, but there are vaccines to prevent other serious illnesses, like measles and pertussis. If children fall behind on necessary vaccinations, it leaves them vulnerable to these illnesses,” said state Health Secretary Robert R. Neall in a statement Thursday.
Parents in Maryland can view their kids’ official vaccination records online here.