Western Maryland leads state in COVID-19 deaths per population

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Jan. 13—CUMBERLAND — In order, Allegany, Garrett and Washington counties on Wednesday had the highest COVID-19 deaths per capita in Maryland and some of the state's lowest vaccination rates.

Meanwhile, the Allegany County Health Department asked for the public's help "to alleviate the unprecedented strain that COVID-19 and its emerging variants have placed on the area's emergency medical services personnel, frontline responders, and hospitals."

Figures, which can be viewed in detail in the report "Maryland counties COVID-19 deaths per population" at times-news.com, were based on U.S. Census Bureau 2020 data; and a Maryland Department of Health report Wednesday included COVID-19 deaths by county, as well as vaccination rates, which means the percentage of eligible people that received two doses of either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, plus the Johnson & Johnson single-dose shot.

Booster vaccination data was not available.

The report, compiled by the Cumberland Times-News, shows that Allegany County had .0044 COVID-19 deaths per population, which was the highest in the state; and a 49.395% rate of vaccination against the disease.

Garrett County had the state's second highest deaths per population at .0035 and Maryland's lowest vaccination rate of 42.834%.

Washington County had the third highest deaths per population at .0031 and a vaccination rate of 53.021%.

Howard County had the lowest deaths per population at .0009 and Maryland's highest vaccination rate of 79.303%.

"COVID-19 infections continue to spread rapidly in Allegany County," ACHD said via press release.

Since Jan. 6, Allegany County has confirmed nearly 1,000 new COVID-19 infections which, when combined with COVID-related staff shortages and everyday non-COVID-related community EMS needs, "threatens to overwhelm frontline health care providers and our health care system as a whole," ACHD said.

"Across the state, increased numbers of hospitalizations have led to longer patient wait times in the area's emergency departments, as well as a shortage of available staffed beds in hospitals," ACHD said. "Healthcare facilities are being required to triage patients as they arrive to ensure the sickest receive treatment first."

ACHD requests help

In light of the unprecedented burden on EMS personnel, hospital staff, and the health system, ACHD asked the public to:

—Avoid going to the emergency department for minor illnesses, such as coughs, colds, and low-grade fevers. "Instead, seek non-emergency care from primary care physicians or urgent care centers."

—Not go to an emergency department to obtain a COVID-19 test. "Instead, go to an approved COVID-19 testing site or use a home test kit." A list of testing locations is at https://coronavirus.maryland.gov/pages/symptoms-testing.

—Limit 9-1-1 EMS calls to possible life-threatening conditions such as chest pains or persistent pain or pressure in the chest, trouble breathing or shortness of breath, bluish lips or face, severe pain that is new and doesn't go away, traumatic injury, unconscious or altered mental status, new confusion or inability to arouse, stroke, overdose, allergic reaction with swelling and/or respiratory difficulty, seizure, diabetic emergencies, life-threatening mental health issues such as suicidal ideation, burns, childbirth with active labor or complications.

"Get your flu and COVID-19 vaccinations, get a COVID booster, and encourage others to do the same," ACHD said. "Help limit COVID-19 transmission by socially distancing, washing hands regularly, and wearing a mask."

Folks should also limit exposure to others, especially if there has been close contact with someone known to have COVID-19 or there are COVID-19 symptoms.

"In cases of mild symptoms that are likely due to a viral illness, EMTs and paramedics will evaluate the patient's condition," ACHD said. "If the severity of illness is mild, they may advise home care, primary care follow-up, and outpatient testing rather than going to the (emergency department)."

For more information about COVID-19 and related resources, visit health.maryland.gov/allegany or https://covidlink.maryland.gov/content/.

"Our EMS system, hospitals and health care personnel are responding to these extraordinary circumstances and continue to meet the needs of our patients," Dr. Ted Delbridge, executive director of the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems, which coordinates the state's EMS system, said via the release. "EMS clinicians are available when you truly need them, but please make sure there is a true emergency before calling 9-1-1 or going to the (emergency department)."

COVID-19 vaccine clinics

Allegany County Fairgrounds, 11400 Moss Ave. will host a Moderna Booster Clinic (ages 18+) by appointment only. Register online by clinic date at the following links:

Jan. 19: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.http://www.marylandvax.org/appointment/en/reg/6091129297

Jan. 26: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.https://www.marylandvax.org/appointment/en/reg/6012927169

First and second doses of Moderna (ages 18+), first and second doses of Pfizer (ages 12+), and booster doses of Pfizer (ages 12+) are available on a walk-in basis from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. No appointment is necessary.

ACHD at its Willowbrook Office Complex, Ground Floor, 12501 Willowbrook Road, will host a Youth Pfizer Vaccine Clinic (ages 5 -11) by appointment only. Register online by clinic date at the following link:

January 26: 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.https://www.marylandvax.org/appointment/en/reg/7251910065

"For assistance registering for an appointment, county residents can call the COVID-19 call center at 240-650-3999," ACHD said. "COVID-19 vaccines and boosters are also widely available in the community at local pharmacies, urgent care clinics, and some primary care providers."

State, local cases

The Maryland Department of Health Wednesday reported 11,033 new COVID-19 cases, 85 more deaths and 10 additional hospitalizations across the state in the past 24 hours.

The daily COVID-19 case rate was 26.91% statewide, 29.57% in Allegany County, 21.13% in Garrett County, and 31.48% in Washington County.

The seven-day moving average COVID-19 case rate per 100,000 people was 200.82 statewide, 258.46 in Allegany County, 154.42 in Garrett County, and 212.68 in Washington County.

Teresa McMinn is the Digital Editor for the Cumberland Times-News. She can be reached at 304-639-2371 or tmcminn@times-news.com.

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