Wicomico Reviews Virus Metrics; Vaccine Distribution Plan Developed

SALISBURY – A discussion on Wicomico’s positivity rate and the distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine highlighted a county council meeting this week.

On Tuesday, Wicomico County Health Officer Lori Brewster presented the Wicomico County Council with a bi-annual report on the health of the county. As to be expected, much of this week’s discussion surrounded the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our numbers today have gone up again, as well as the state’s numbers,” Brewster said Tuesday. “We are at a 6.9% positivity rate in Wicomico County with a 27.6 case rate.”

Brewster told county officials this week the number of severe COVID-19 cases had decreased from the spring, but hospitalizations had increased in recent weeks. She also noted an increasing positivity rate among younger individuals.

“The number that seems to be escalating rapidly is the 25- to 44-year-olds. They are up to a 10.86% positivity rate, which gives me grave concerns,” she said. “The other population that has skyrocketed over the past week is the 15- to 25-year-olds. They are up to a 7.14% positivity rate.”

When asked if the health department had seen asymptomatic cases, Brewster said it had.

“That’s what we’re seeing in the 25- to 44-year-olds,” she replied. “A lot of them are asymptomatic and they are taking it home to the rest of their family. Then we have a whole family that is positive for COVID.”

Brewster noted that between 150 and 200 individuals are tested each week at the Wicomico County Health Department. This week, however, the health department worked alongside the hospital to include additional testing dates.

“We are hearing from the urgent care centers as well as the emergency department that everyone is being overwhelmed with requests for testing,” she told the council. “The call center at the health department received well over 200 calls yesterday for requests for testing.”

As the weather turns colder, Brewster said drive-thru testing could be moved to a fire station ambulance bay on Cypress Street.

“We have been working with the City of Salisbury and we now have an MOU with them to utilize the fire house ambulance bay for winter testing,” she said. “As you can imagine as the weather gets colder … it can be an issue. The ambulance bay at the fire house is temperature controlled.”

Brewster added that the health department had also developed a distribution plan for COVID-19 vaccines. She said surveys about vaccine administration have already been sent to first responders and health department staff.

“We know those vaccines will be available to the health department early December, maybe the end of this month, for first responders and health care workers,” she said. “So we have been working in conjunction with Somerset County to develop a vaccine administration program. We don’t know when the public vaccine will be available quite yet, but we assume early spring.”

Brewster this week also provided the council with an update on compliance measures. She said the health department had responded to more than 100 food service facility complaints and more than 200 business facility complaints.

“We believe education goes a lot further than hammering somebody with a violation order,” she said.

Brewster added that large family gatherings were contributing to most outbreaks in the county. As the holiday season approaches, she encouraged individuals to remain diligent.

“People need to wear a mask and avoid large gatherings as we approach the holiday season,” she said. “We just need people to be safe.”

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.