County-level COVID-19 positivity rates restored to state website weeks after cyberattack

·2 min read

On Christmas Day, Washington County's COVID-19 positivity rate reached almost 20%, breaking the previous county record set New Year's Eve 2020, according to Maryland Department of Health data.

Positivity rate, which stood at 17.65% as of Tuesday for Washington County, is among several county-level statistics related to the virus that had been unavailable since a Dec. 4 cyberattack on the state health department's computer servers.

The data has been used by county health departments across the state to keep track of the spread and severity of the novel coronavirus, which causes the COVID-19 disease.

Registered nurse Rachel Eiker is seen through the window of a hospital room while checking on a COVID-19 patient at the regional infectious containment unit at Meritus Medical Center recently. Thanks to a cyberattack on the Maryland Department of Health's servers, county-level data related to COVID-19 has been hard to come by. But information, such as county positivity rates, is slowly being restored.
Registered nurse Rachel Eiker is seen through the window of a hospital room while checking on a COVID-19 patient at the regional infectious containment unit at Meritus Medical Center recently. Thanks to a cyberattack on the Maryland Department of Health's servers, county-level data related to COVID-19 has been hard to come by. But information, such as county positivity rates, is slowly being restored.

The statewide positivity rate, which is the seven-day average rate at which people being tested for the virus are testing positive, stood at 17.58% as of Tuesday afternoon, according to the MDH online dashboard.

On the Eastern Shore, Wicomico County's positivity rate stood at 13.55% as of Tuesday. Worcester County's rate was 14.84%. Somerset County's was 12.53%.

In an email sent late Tuesday, MDH spokesman Andy Owens said the department restarted reporting for confirmed and probable deaths tied to COVID-19 by jurisdiction, covering the backlog of information to Dec. 4.

Not everything has been restored, though.

"The most notable data points that have not yet been reinstated include: Positivity and Testing by Age Group and Daily Cases by Age Group," Owens wrote.

MDH also was to update post-vaccination infections data Wednesday, the day on which it has been reported during the pandemic. It hasn't been updated since Dec. 3, Owens said.

A few days before Christmas, Owens said the department's cybersecurity teams were "working around the clock" to restore access.

Some information, such as vaccination rates and hospitalizations, was restored within days. But other details, such as the number of new positive cases, the number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 and the positivity rate, were unavailable for weeks.

Previously: Holidays, cyberattack leave Tri-State COVID-19 statistics incomplete

At-home tests: Washington County health department to distribute at-home COVID tests

Without the state numbers to help guide local policy, the Washington County Health Department relied on other data, said spokeswoman Danielle Stahl.

"During the server outage the WCHD has focused on other available data ... such as hospitalizations," she wrote in an email Tuesday.

In a Facebook post Tuesday afternoon, Washington County government noted the updated data.

"Washington County aims to have the positivity rate on our dashboard updated by tomorrow (Wednesday)," the post reads.

However, the Facebook post notes that Washington County's positivity rate on Dec. 25 was 19.74%. That passes the previously highest positivity rate for the county of 18.46% on Dec. 31, 2020.

This article originally appeared on The Herald-Mail: Maryland Department of Health releases county COVID positivity rates

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting