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St. Mary's health department deals with 'cybersecurity incident'

Medical

Officials confirmed the St. Mary’s health department faced a cybersecurity incident last week in the midst of the department’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The incident occurred last Thursday, and involved the St. Mary’s health department’s computer network, Maryland Department of Information Technology spokesperson Patrick Mulford said on Tuesday. While critical parts of the health department’s network were up and running soon after, some features, including the department’s mapping of COVID-19 cases by ZIP code, negative test results, hospitalizations and recoveries still unfixed as of press time Tuesday, he said.

That data will be delayed, Jenna Guzman, a health department spokesperson said Tuesday, and there is no definite timeline for the data’s recovery.

The St. Mary’s health department on its website reported 148 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the county, consisting of 73 males and 78 females, as of Tuesday. The health department also reported seven deaths.

Lexington Park has the highest amount of confirmed cases in the county, with 35 cases, and Mechanicsville has 32 cases, according to the county health department. ZIP codes with under eight cases are not counted due to confidentiality, Guzman said. Over 37.8 percent of confirmed cases in the county are people who identify as African American or black, over 43.9% as Caucasian, and over 18.2% are another race, or could not be identified.

Age data returned to the county health department’s website on Tuesday after being unavailable over the weekend, showing double digit numbers in just about every age category.

The state IT department is working to fully repair the county health department’s network, Mulford said, also noting the department was currently not comfortable with describing the incident as a “breach” or a “hack.”

“There is currently an ongoing investigation to further understand the scope and full details of the incident,” Mulford said on Tuesday, declining to identify what the cybersecurity incident entailed. “It would be irresponsible to reveal details of the incident during an ongoing investigation and therefore we are unable to answer many questions.”

The St. Mary’s health department declined to comment on the matter, but did issue a brief press release on Friday saying “a cybersecurity incident” had happened the day before.

Twitter: @DanEntNews

Twitter: @DanEntNews

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