The Allegany County Health Department reports 23 new COVID-19 cases since Monday bringing the total cumulative COVID-19 case count for Allegany County now to 628. According to a press release from the ACHD the latest cases include a female and a male in their teens, four females and a male in their 20s, two females in their 30s, two females in their 40s, two females and two males in their 50s, two females and four males in their 60s, a male in his 70s, and a female in her 80s. Only one of the new cases has been hospitalized.
According to the press release Allegany County Health Department, along with local health departments across the state, are conducting contact tracing. Contact tracing is the process of identifying people who may have come into contact with an individual with an infectious disease. The process involves identifying infected people, determining who they have been in close contact with while infectious, and asking people who are potentially infected to stay home until it is clear they are not sick.
Maryland has contracted with NORC at the University of Chicago, one of the largest independent social research organizations in the United States, to assist in contact tracing efforts. NORC is conducting contact tracing in Allegany County along with the Allegany County Health Department.
If you receive a phone call from “MD COVID,” please pick up. It is likely a contact tracer trying to get ahold of you.
A faculty member at Bishop Walsh School recently tested positive for COVID-19. The teacher, who followed all of the necessary safety protocols while attending school, has been quarantined and has not been on the school premises since Wednesday, October 14. The faculty member’s students are also in quarantine through October 28. School leadership has been in communication with the necessary BW parents, the Allegany County Health Department and the Archdiocese of Baltimore Catholic Schools to ensure that all necessary follow-up procedures are undertaken in an efficient manner. BW is one of only a few schools in Allegany County who opened its doors for in-person learning for the fall, 2020 school year. Students follow a daily rigorous safety protocol which includes wearing face masks, social distancing, hand washing, controlling foot-traffic flow and limiting interaction and gatherings. For more information, call 301.724.5360 or visit www.bishopwalsh.org.
Frostburg State University officials have decided to pause all athletic-related activity in the sports of men’s basketball, women’s basketball, men’s cross country and the hurdles and sprints cohort within the track and field team. According to a statement from FSU these actions are taken in alignment with the guidance from NCAA’s Resocialization of Collegiate Sport guidance. FSU continues exercise an abundance of caution while operating its athletic programs. FSU’s monitoring indicates that a majority of positive cases among student-athletes have come as the result of social interactions and shared households. We take this opportunity to reinforce how important it is to continue to wear face masks properly, maintain social distancing and wash hands frequently. According to the statement from FSU as stated before, any students who test positive for COVID-19 are required to isolate away from campus for a time determined by medical professionals. The Allegany County Health Department conducts contract tracing and will determine if additional measures are necessary.
Garrett County has seen the greatest spike in COVID-19 cases the last two weeks since the pandemic began. Garrett County Health Officer Bob Stephens discusses some of the reasons for the spikes and how members of the community can help slow the spread of COVID-19. The Garrett County Health Department received four additional positive COVID-19 results, bringing the current county total positives to 107. To hear the interview click here https://soundcloud.com/amanda-mangan/garrett-county-health-officer-bob-stephens-for-pht
In Mineral County there are 205 total cases, 16 are active 185 recovered 4 total deaths
There were 2 new cases in Grant County. One was a student at Petersburg Elementary School, and the other was a family member. Both are quarantining at home. Contacts have been notified and are self – isolating.
185 Total COVID Cases
• 177 confirmed Positive COVID cases
• 8 Probable COVID cases
• 162 Total Recovered
• 11 Active Cases. 1 is hospitalized at this time, all cases will remain active and in quarantine until a minimum of 10 days after diagnosis or symptom onset, AND no symptoms for 24 hours without medication.
• 12 Deaths, of these:
§ 8 Deaths listed as COVID related (6 from GRCC)
§ 4 others tested positive soon before dying from other causes and COVID was not determined to contribute to the death by the physician of record.
If you have any symptoms (loss of taste or smell, fever, cough, muscle aches, cough, shortness of breath, headache or diarrhea) or have been told that you are a close contact to a positive case and are tested, please follow the instructions given at that time for self-isolation until test results are returned and you are instructed when to discontinue isolation.
Call Grant Memorial Hospital (304) 257 1026 and press 5 to speak to an ER nurse or Grove Street Health Center at 304-257-2451 to help determine if testing is indicated and instructions how to proceed.
On Monday, October 26, 2020, Allegany County Public Schools will begin the implementation of the hybrid learning model for third and fourth grade students. Third and fourth graders will report to their bus stop for their normal pick-up time. Schools will be dismissed daily at 1:30 p.m.
Students in Grades 3 and 4 will report to school Monday through Thursday on an A-B-A-B schedule. A student’s last name will determine which days he/she will attend. Students with last names that begin A-L will attend school on Mondays and Wednesdays, and students with last names that begin M-Z will attend school on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Friday will be a virtual day, and the current virtual day schedule will be followed. If a parent has elementary children with two different last names that would cause them to attend on different days, the parent should call the principal to arrange whether the siblings will attend on an A Day or B Day.
Parents will be provided with their child’s in-person learning schedule for his or her grade level and will also be provided with a parent letter, COVID symptom checklist, and mask requirements and guidelines. Parents have been informed that they had the right to “opt out “of the in-person/hybrid learning model and have their child remain in a virtual learning environment. The deadline for completing the opt-out form was September 28, 2020.
As Grades 3 and 4 enter school for in-person learning next week, these children will participate in a “Virtual School” facilitated by a certified teacher. A parent who has opted out of in-person/hybrid learning can select to “opt-in” at the end of the nine-week marking period, with a start date activation for the next marking period.
Central office staff are currently working on logistical details for phasing in Grade 5 students in the near future. Additional information will be forthcoming once staffing and schedules have been finalized.
Please keep in mind that hybrid learning structures are subject to change based on health metrics and guidance provided by the Allegany County Health Department. Any changes will be communicated to parents through the ACPS website and messaging system.
From ACPS: Governor Hogan’s order issued on October 16, 2020, states that the total number of spectators permitted at an outdoor venue shall not exceed 10% of the venue’s maximum capacity. The maximum capacity is set forth by the fire code issued to that venue.
As a result of that order, every participant (player, band member, cheerleader, drill team member, color guard member, etc.) can purchase two tickets for all home events in which they are performing/participating. All visiting teams will be allocated two tickets per player for purchase. Any remaining tickets will be open for public purchase.
Although the order did not increase the capacity of indoor venues, it did clarify that players and those associated with the customary operations of the game do not need to be added into the 100 person capacity. Therefore, all volleyball players, home and visiting teams will be able to purchase two tickets to each game. Any remaining tickets will be open for public purchase.
Ticket prices remain $6.00 for adults and $3.00 for students. At all events, bleacher seating is required of all spectators. Social distancing and masks are also required.
All home football games will be live-streamed. Featured matchups for boys and girls soccer, as well as volleyball, will also be live-streamed. Information on how to access the live streams will be posted in the near future.
Mineral County Public Schools Superintendent Troy Ravenscroft discusses the latest plans for students including a target date for full in person instruction on Nov 30th. To hear the interview click here https://soundcloud.com/amanda-mangan/troy-ravenscroft-for-pht-1
As students begin returning to in person instruction the issue of how positive COVID-19 test results within the schools is reported to the public differs depending on each county. Locally in Garrett County information on positive cases within the school system is released through press releases whenever a case arises however in Allegany County positive case information is expected to be released on a weekly basis.
According to a statement from Maryland Department of Health Office of Communications Deputy Director Charles Gischlar data on school outbreaks is collected by local health departments, and the Maryland Department of Health is in discussions with state and local education officials about the best way to release data. Some school systems have expressed concerns about the release of any identifying information .According to Gischlar MDH officials also continue to encourage school systems to be communicative with families in conveying relevant COVID-19 information that may impact students.
According to Robyne McCullough Media Relations for Maryland State Department of Education there was some guidance developed by the Maryland Department of Health and released statewide to school systems in July as a response to a laboratory confirmed case of COVID-19 and persons with COVID-19 like illness in schools. The guidance includes the following:
This guidance accompanies the “Decision Aid: Exclusion and Return for Laboratory Confirmed COVID-19 Cases and Persons with COVID-19-like Illness in Schools, Child Care Programs, and Youth Camps.”
This guidance applies to persons with a laboratory confirmed case of COVID-19, regardless of whether they have symptoms, and persons with COVID-19-like illness. Exclusion, quarantine and return to school for a person with laboratory confirmed COVID-19 or persons with symptoms of COVID-19-like illness is based on CDC and Maryland Department of Health/Maryland State Department of Education guidance and is to be implemented by local school systems in collaboration with the local health department.
For the purposes of this guidance, COVID-19-like illness is defined as:
1. New onset cough or shortness of breath; OR
2. At least 2 of the following: fever of 100.4 o or higher, chills, shivering, muscle pain, sore throat, headache, loss of sense of taste or smell, or gastrointestinal symptoms (nausea, vomiting or diarrhea).
NOTE: This definition was adapted from the clinical criteria in the CDC case definition of a probable case of COVID-19.
The guidance below is meant to supplement, where necessary, current communicable disease outbreak investigation processes, current school health services illness management processes, and current local health department COVID-19 response processes. The guidance below is designed to expedite notification, isolation, and quarantine of school staff and/or students, as indicated, when a person notifies the school they/their child has a laboratory confirmed case of COVID-19, regardless of whether the person has symptoms, or exhibits symptoms of COVID-19- like illness. The specific processes to implement this guidance within each school system are to be developed and carried out as a collaboration between the local school system and the local health department.
a. School systems should develop processes to inform staff and parents that they are expected to notify the school as soon as they are made aware that they/their child has tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19 or that they/their child has been exposed to a person who is confirmed to have COVID-19;
b. School systems should communicate to parents the expectation that ill students MUST be picked up within a specified period of time;
c. The school should have a plan for how parents are to notify the school of a positive test result or exposure to ensure confidentiality;
d. Schools should have a plan to collaborate and coordinate with the local health department regarding school contact tracing procedures including determining the role of the school nurse, the school administrator, and the local health department;
e. The school system should develop communication templates for notification of contacts of persons who are confirmed to have COVID-19.
2. Notification of contacts who must quarantine
a. The local health department should lead the process of contact tracing;
b. The school should work with the local health department to identify persons who may have had close contact with the person testing positive for COVID-19;
c. Schools should provide written notification to all identified contacts. The notificationshould include the following:
i. When to seek medical care
ii. How to monitor for symptoms
iii. Who to contact and how to contact them if they develop symptoms of COVID-19 while under quarantine
iv. The projected length of quarantine if they remain asymptomatic
v. Plan for maintaining remote learning for those who remain well enough to engage in learning while under quarantine
vi. Information about local COVID-19 testing sites
3. Isolation, Exclusion, Quarantine, and Return to School
a. If a student or school staff member develops symptoms of COVID-19-like illness during the school day, the school should:
i. Safely isolate the person in the designated isolation area and place a surgical mask on the person if they are not wearing a cloth face covering as appropriate;
ii. The SHS staff member should don the appropriate PPE and conduct the appropriate determination of the student’s condition based on presenting symptoms;
iii. Begin the process for the person to vacate the school as soon as possible;
3 b. When a school is informed of a laboratory confirmed case of COVID-19 in a student or school staff member, regardless of whether the person has symptoms, the school should begin the process for identifying close contacts and begin the notification process in collaboration with the local health department;
c. The school should follow the “Decision Aid: Exclusion and Return for Laboratory Confirmed COVID-19 Cases and Persons with COVID-19-like Illness in Schools, Child Care Programs, and Youth Camps” (see attachment) for a person with a positive test for COVID-19 or who has COVID-19 like illness, regardless if they have been tested, and those who had close contact with the person with COVID-19 or COVID-19-like illness;
d. The school should also follow the instructions from the local health department for all matters regarding quarantine, exclusion and return to school for a person with a positive test for COVID-19 or who has COVID-19-like illness, and those who had close contact with the person with COVID-19 or COVID-19-like illness; and
e. If the number of laboratory confirmed cases of COVID-19 or persons with COVID-19- like illness meets the definition of an outbreak, the response decisions, including possible school closure, will be made by the local health department.
Reminder from Allegany County Transit: All transit passengers MUST wear a mask while on the bus. Ask the driver for a mask if you need one.
It is with great sadness that officials announce that the 2020 Santa’s North Pole Express Train rides are canceled due to COVID-19 This was not a choice that was entered into lightly and many conversations were had with all parties involved. The decision was made with everyone’s health and safety in mind. The Hardy County Tour and Craft Association and the Moorefield Volunteer Fire Company look forward to this event every year. Santa’s North Pole Express Train has been a staple event in many family’s Christmas traditions since 2006. The organization has had volunteers who have helped bring Christmas alive to the rides year after year, being a part of this ride is just as much etched in their holiday traditions as it is in the riders. Officials agree with the Potomac Eagle that the Christmas trains could not be held safely while upholding the high standards of magic and Christmas spirit we have become known for delivering. Officials know that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed so much of our daily lives and will alter our usual holiday traditions. We hope that you find ways to keep Christmas alive in your homes and in your hearts, and stay well and safe throughout the year. We look forward to more magical rides to the North Pole in 2021