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Kent has 1st case of COVID-19; WC student tests negative

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COVID-19 alert

CHESTERTOWN — Washington College announced Wednesday morning that a male student who had been hospitalized under suspicion of COVID-19 has tested negative.

Less than 24 hours earlier, local officials reported that Kent County had its first confirmed case of the novel coronavirus.

In a news release Tuesday afternoon, March 24, the Kent County Health Department reported that a man in his 20s had tested positive for the respiratory illness that can be spread from person to person.

The man was identified only by his age.

According to the news release, he is not a member of the Washington College community.

The man had traveled to areas where other COVID-19 cases had been confirmed, according to the news release.

Bill Webb, the health officer for Kent County, said the man was never hospitalized.

Testing occurred March 16.

The man is now home.

Since testing, he has remained in self-isolation and “reports an almost full recovery,” according to the KCHD news release.

Webb said in a prepared statement: “A contact tracing is underway to determine exposure within the County, and we are working with the Maryland Department of Health to take the appropriate precautions.”

Surrounding counties, including Cecil, Queen Anne’s, Talbot and Caroline, already had reported confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Webb said there are pending results in Kent, but he did not know how many.

In a telephone interview Tuesday, Webb said health care providers are not obligated to report at the time of testing. But all results related to COVID-19 are reported to the local health department.

In a televised news conference Wednesday morning, March 25, Gov. Larry Hogan announced 423 confirmed cases, an increase of 74 cases in the past 24 hours — the largest one-day increase.

To date, 22 of Maryland’s 24 jurisdictions have at least one confirmed case of the novel coronavirus.

Just before 10 a.m. Wednesday, Washington College announced that it had received “some much-needed good news” — nearly two weeks after a student was tested for COVID-19.

The Kent County Health Department reported that the student’s specimen was collected at the hospital in Chestertown and submitted to an independent commercial lab. The lab confirmed that it received the specimen, according to a Saturday, March 21 post on the health department’s Facebook page.

In the same Facebook post, the KCHD reported that the lab was “over capacity and could not process it.” So, the specimen was sent to a second lab.

In its update Monday, March 23, the college reported that the student — who was discharged from the hospital here last week — appeared to be in good health and good spirits. He was said to be passing the time by Skyping with family and friends, binging on Netflix and, like hundreds of Washington students, logged into the online platform Canvas to resume his coursework.

“While the threat of COVID-19 to our community is real, this news comes as a relief to everyone who feared possible exposure on our College campus,” President Kurt Landgraf said in a prepared statement Wednesday.

“I am so proud of this young man and his friends who did the right thing by taking responsibility for the community’s health,” Landgraf said.

The student was hospitalized March 13 for flu-like symptoms after traveling out of state to an area with confirmed cases of community-transmitted COVID-19, according to college officials.

He was discharged from the University of Maryland Shore Medical Center at Chestertown on Thursday, March 19.

Following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the student’s traveling companions and suitemates have been in voluntary quarantine since March 13 while test results were pending, the college said in Wednesday’s news release.

After extending spring break for a week, Washington transitioned to remote-only instruction beginning Monday, March 23.

Students have been told they must be off campus by the end of the month.

As of Monday, there were fewer than 70 students remaining on campus. Many of them have plans to leave within the next couple of days, the college reported.

A small number of students who cannot return home will remain on campus through the end of the semester.

Washington College will continue to follow the measures put into place over the last two weeks to help slow the spread of COVID-19, according to a news release. Students and faculty are engaged in remote learning; public events have been canceled or postponed; many staff are working from home; and access to campus is restricted to students, faculty and staff who have permission to be on campus.

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