January could turn out to be the deadliest month ever for Frederick County, Maryland, when it comes to deaths caused by COVID-19.
Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner said that the county has seen 55 people die from the virus so far this month, which ties a record high seen in April 2020 when the pandemic started.
“The month isn’t over yet, so we have a few more days. That statistic could actually get worse,” Gardner said.
Last week was the deadliest week on record according to the county executive, with 26 COVID-related deaths in the county.
Of the people who died from COVID-19 so far this year, a majority are not succumbing to the illness in nursing homes.
“The people who are dying are predominantly dying in hospitals,” Gardner said.
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The county’s one hospital, Frederick Hospital, remains in a “crisis standard care model” according to Gardner, with 83 COVID-19 patients in the hospital. Gardner said that number exceeds the high number of hospitalizations of 72 seen last winter.
Gardner also said there are 309 patients at a hospital that can only serve 300 patients, so some patients are still waiting for beds.
“The hospital remains under incredible stress,” Gardner said.
The county leader did say 10 people are in the ICU for COVID-19, and that number is down from recent weeks.
Gardner said transmission rates remain high in the county, with case numbers still exceeding the high seen during the last big case surge in the county. On Jan. 12, the county reported 868 new COVID cases; by Jan. 25, that number dropped to 172 new cases.
Even though case numbers are dropping, Gardner urges residents that the threat of the virus remains.
“We are improving, that gives us great hope and optimism, but it’s important that we continue to do our part for a few more weeks,” she said.
The county executive urged residents to get vaccinations and boosters, and to continue to follow the county’s mask mandate, which requires masks be worn indoors. Also, she encouraged residents to test themselves for the virus.
Gardner said the county intends to hand out additional tests for residents, but the county continues to wait for its shipment of the at-home kits.
She did announce that a shipment of KN95 masks did come in and are being delivered to county libraries. Starting Friday, residents can pick up five masks per family during their local library’s normal operating hours.