On Tuesday, the Charles County commissioners, after an extended recess period, reconvened virtually to discuss the state of COVID-19 in the county and extend the local state of emergency.
The commissioners voted to extend the state of emergency to Sept. 11 at 4:59 p.m., following a briefing from Dr. Howard Haft, executive director of the Maryland Primary Care Program, and Michelle Lilly, director of the emergency services department.
Charles has reported 2,411 cases and 92 deaths as of Wednesday afternoon, according to the Maryland health department.
Charles County Attorney Wesley Adams said the previous state of emergency lapsed on Aug. 28, and given the state of COVID-19 in the county, he left the termination date of the new one open. Commissioners decided to extend it for just two weeks at this point.
“I have drafted a new state of emergency,” he said. “Given the current state of the COVID pandemic, I left the date for termination open for the county commissioners to consider whether they wish it to run a full 30 days.”
Adams added that a state of emergency can shift authority in the county to the health department, adding that potential “fiscal impositions” on the county may be created.
During the presentation from Lilly, she notified all meeting attendees that from Aug. 24 to Aug. 31 there was only one COVID-19 death in Charles, adding there were 107 positive tests results last week.
“COVID deaths [have been] on average about one death per every two weeks since early July” in Charles County, she said. “The expansion in testing has allowed for an increase number of negatives each week.”
Lilly explained that the University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center has seen a steady decline in COVID-19 admitted patients since Aug. 3.
“CRMC hospital admissions for COVID positive patients has continued to decline. ... For EMS transports, we continue to average about two per day,” she said.
Haft explained to the broadcast viewers that Charles County residents must continue to follow the suggested protocols to ensure the safety of themselves and others.
“Using our facial coverings to protect ourselves and protect others,” he said, is vital, adding that testing is a crucial element in mitigation.
Testing, Haft noted, is available “either at the VEIP sites, provider’s offices or urgent cares, or at the drive-thru pharmacist sites,” and are in place for patients today.
Personal protective equipment, Haft explained, has been obtained by the health department in great quantities and is available for distribution.
The health department has “a large cache” of personal protective equipment, he said, and the department “will continue to make that available to our skilled nursing facilities,” noting it will be distributed to “others as needed.”
Haft informed the commissioners that Charles County’s positivity and case rate is below other counties in the area, but some other Maryland counties efficacy in stopping the spread has been more efficient.
“We are better than many counties,” he said, “but we are not as good as others. ... We have made tremendous progress over the last several months.”