Statistics from the St. Mary’s health department, which recently updated its data page, show that more cases are being added daily than at the pandemic’s low point in June, but not at the rapid rate seen in some other areas across the country.
As of Tuesday, St. Mary’s has had 878 confirmed cases and 53 deaths due to COVID-19, according to the county health department.
The county’s positivity rate, a seven-day average of the percentage of people tested who tested positive, slightly rose earlier this month from 3.03% at the beginning of the month to 7.07% last Sunday, and again dropped down to 3.06% by Tuesday.
After passing a benchmark of testing 10% of the county’s population last week, the next goal is to test 15% of the county’s population, according to the health department. Although hours at the county’s appointment-free testing centers have been cut back, a new location for county residents to be tested without a doctor’s order was opened at the health department’s headquarters in Leonardtown, in addition to the previous location at the health department’s harm reduction office in Lexington Park.
The St. Mary’s health department’s updated data page features previously unavailable information, including historical case data, weekly new cases and fatalities counted by week as well as fatality data for nursing homes, which also includes a count of nursing home fatalities counted within the county and counted in other jurisdictions.
According to that data, 36 of the 53 deaths counted in St. Mary’s have been at the Charlotte Hall Veterans Home, where a severe outbreak has slowed down since June. A total of 62 deaths, including one staff member, have occurred at the veterans home, but about 26 of those were counted in other jurisdictions. A single death at the St. Mary’s Nursing Center was also counted as in another jurisdiction.
The new data also shows a new figure, the estimated effective reproductive number, or Rt, which is a way of comparing how many people an infected person infects at a given time. The value ranges from zero to two, according to a health department spokesperson, with values greater than one meaning the “pandemic is growing” due to the virus spreading to more than one person per an infection, and that the pandemic would theoretically go away over time if the value remains under one.
The Rt value on Monday was 1.22, higher than any point during the month of June, when the estimated Rt value was under one, however, it rose in July to values over one in 13 nonconsecutive days.
“Keep in mind these are estimates with a range of values,” the spokesperson said. “It’s just another measure we track to give us an idea of how well we might be controlling the spread of the disease.”