Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk – October 29, 2021

Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk – October 29, 2021

Though masks may be here to stay in schools, it seems likely some changes will be made to quarantine rules in the near future.

As a result of many students being sidelined by protocols governing positive exposures, some jurisdictions in Maryland have recently gone against state guidance when it comes to close contact quarantining. For example, in an extreme move, Carroll County opted last month to not require a student who is deemed a close contact to a positive individual quarantine so long as the student is asymptomatic. This decision was made no matter of vaccination status. In a more conservative move, Harford County reduced its general quarantine time from 14 days to 10 to get students back in school faster. At this week’s state Department of Education meeting, State School Superintendent Mohammed Choudhury said he has been communicating with Maryland Health Department Deputy Secretary Dr. Jinlene Chan on changing the current guidance governing quarantine for students exposed to a positive individual. He said, “We are supportive of a modified quarantine. We have just not put anything out, but I hope we can soon.” Some education officials are expecting the quarantine time for exposed students to potentially be cut in half from 14 days to seven or 10 days so long as symptoms do not exist.

Currently, a close contact in a school setting is determined by an individual who was within three feet of an infected student without a mask for 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. If a student is wearing a mask, he or she is not considered a close contact. Therefore, the mask is critical to limit close contact identification, which requires quarantining. How many days of quarantine – missed school time – varies depending on vaccination status but is a minimum of 10 days typically no matter of symptoms.

Under the current protocols, I have always felt the quarantine is the enemy not the masks, although many feel passionately I’m off base. The effort to reduce the quarantine times – especially for the asymptomatic — is worthwhile and will result in less kids missing school. I wish the promised conversation would be had in November rather than December.

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Atlantic General Hospitals 28th Annual Penguin Swim



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Whether it’s a conscious thing is unknown, but the strategy seems to be shifting with the September pop-up weekend. For many years, efforts were strictly tied to enforcement and enhancing punishments for offenders. While these efforts will surely continue until the weekend is peaceful again, there seems to now be a tactic to add special events to the last weekend of September to coincide with the pop-up rally.

Last summer a national promoter came forward with plans to hold a major beach music festival, an event that has the support of tourism folks. The promoter is aware his planned event is scheduled as the pop-up weekend. Now this week a week-long Adventure Fest concept was pitched to the Ocean City Mayor and Council. Unlike the music festival, which would be downtown on the beach, the adventure festival events would be centered at the convention center. Events, which would be carried out in conjunction with the Hogs and Heroes Foundation, discussed include a hunting and fishing expo with a modified gun show, a police K-9 competition, a police motorcycle rodeo and concerts. The promoter said, “We know for a fact there will be 3,000 room nights in the first year and maybe as many as 5,000.”

It’s too early to tell if these events will ever come to fruition, but it’s clear for the first time in a decade Ocean City appears to be trending in the right direction on the pop-up weekend, which was essentially a non-event this year when compared to the hell of previous years. Adding events and welcoming people to Ocean City would be a nice change from the mantra of the last couple years to avoid Ocean City at all costs on the pop-up weekend.

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Since it’s been a while since I have dug into the local and state coronavirus data, here are some interesting current numbers to share:

•For Worcester County, 73% of the population (34,040) is fully vaccinated.

•In Worcester County, there have been 4,994 confirmed cases and 119 people have died from COVID-19 to date.

•Worcester County’s positivity rate was 4.89% as of Wednesday (which is a 160% decline since Sept. 12 and 75% drop from Oct. 9).

•Worcester County’s seven-day moving average case rate per 100,000 was 14.48% as of Wednesday, representing a 130% decline from Oct. 8 and 168% decrease from Sept. 3.

•98% of Marylanders 65 and older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Approximately

•85.9% of Marylanders 18 and older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

•84.9% of Marylanders 12 and older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

•Maryland’s COVID-19 positivity rate (3.21%) has declined by 37.1% since Aug. 22.

•Maryland’s COVID-19 case rate per 100K (12.6) has declined by 39.4% since Sept. 15.

•Maryland’s COVID-19 hospitalizations (609) have declined by 27.9% since Sept. 9, and are down 68.8% from their peak.

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.