COVID-19 alert

CHESTERTOWN — The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 has skyrocketed this month in Kent County. As of Tuesday the total was 718, according to the Maryland Department of Health.

Kent’s caseload has increased by 252 in December, with surges of 10 or more cases in one day on a handful of occasions. Most recently, the number of positive tests increased by 18 from 695 on Sunday, Dec. 27 to 713 on Monday.

Also, Kent County recorded its 25th COVID-related death.

Kent County Health Officer William Webb said a man in his 70s died on Dec. 21. He was someone who was “significantly sick in an end-of-life situation,” Webb said, noting that the death was not related to a nursing home.

While most of the cases recently for the virus have been community spread, Webb said the Kent County Health Department is monitoring outbreaks at three skilled-care facilities and tracking an outbreak at the Kent County Detention Center.

The threshold for an outbreak in a skilled-care setting is one positive case, according to Webb.

Most of the cases are staff that have been picked up in the biweekly surveillance testing, Webb said in a telephone interview Monday, Dec. 28.

The two people infected at the detention center and the 17 people who tested positive at the Heron Point senior community in Chestertown are all staff, Webb said, and they were sent home.

The outbreaks at the Resorts at Chester River Manor and Peak Healthcare at Chestertown, both located on Morgnec Road, involve staff and residents, Webb said.

Staff who tested positive for the virus were sent home.

Nursing home residents who test positive are moved into an isolation wing for 10 days, according to Webb.

He said nursing home residents who have potentially been exposed — having close contact within 6 feet for at least 15 minutes of someone with confirmed or suspected COVID — are quarantined for 14 days.

While there is an outbreak, residents are tested once a week and staff are tested twice a week, Webb said.

The least populous county in the state, Kent has the fewest COVID cases. Next is Talbot with 1,133 confirmed cases, according to the MDH website.

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