CENTREVILLE — Health Officer for Queen Anne’s County, Dr. Joseph Ciatola, presented to the Queen Anne’s County Commissioners his insights on COVID-19 in the county. He was up to date and direct in his recommendations. “We are all done with COVID, but COVID is not done with us. We need to continue that message of social distancing, face coverings, hand washing and if you are sick, stay home. The nightmare won’t go away until we have a vaccine,” he said.
He also brought a hopeful message to the council.
There are three promising vaccines that are in the works. According to Ciatola, the virus seems to attack the ACE 2 inhibitors, which are in the nose. That is how the virus gets into us, he explained. This virus gets into our body and starts changing things in our body called bradykinin. The bradykinin then affects the bowel, your heart, and the blood brain barrier – which is why we are seeing neurological symptoms in patients with COVID, including seizures, memory loss and stroke like symptoms, he said.
Some things that might help with COVID recovery, said Ciatola include Vitamin D. Vitamin D significantly impedes the ability of the bradykinin to affect the systems of our body, he said. It is one of the most deficient vitamins in our body and Vitamin C, D and Zinc can have a significant impact on recovery. “Looking at science and not politics will make a world of difference of how we proceed over the next year,” he said.
Reporting on countywide statistics, Ciatola broke down the number of total reported cases in Queen Anne’s in the past six months. Positive cases here number 618. He noted positive cases are reported to the county in which the individual resides — including college students who may be away for school, but list their permanent address as Queen Anne’s. Of the 22 deaths reported in Queen Anne’s, Ciatola said 18 those of were cases from a single long-term care facility in the county. In the 18, one was a staff member.
Younger individuals are not without risk, noted Ciatola, referencing social gatherings particularly at universities and weddings.
“When they return to college, they are partying. Social gathering has been where 40% of cases are transmitted. I know with the Governor’s phase two, outdoor gatherings have now been allowed. My major concern is weddings and large gatherings like that,” he said.
“The venues in Queen Anne’s County have done everything they can to prevent the spread. They have done social distancing, they have done face coverings and they are working with bridal parties to make sure those present have been screened appropriately. So you don’t have a random heavy outbreak from one event. That is my greatest fear,” he said.
He also recognized local businesses too for being proactive.
Looking at the measurement of daily case rates — based on a seven day average — Queen Anne’s is at 9.6 cases per day, Caroline at 25.7, Dorchester at 17.4, and Worcester County (Ocean City) is 21.6. “Even for Phase 3 we are looking at a lot of cases,” Ciatola said.
Case rate for school indication goes from five to 15, under five you can go back to full school activity, according to parameters set by the MD Department of Health — 15 means you’re shutting down again, he said.
Queen Anne’s remains vigilant with testing. Trying to keep an accurate and realistic count on active cases in the county. We are testing four days a week, said Ciatola. Monday and Wednesday we do mobile testing in Kent Island and Sudlersville. On Tuesday and Thursday there is drive through testing at Chesapeake College, he said.
He is pleased with how fast the lab results are turning around — generally around 72 hours.
“I want to thank the citizenship of Queen Anne’s County for being as conscientious, respectful and alert to what needs to be done to protect our families their loved ones and their neighbors,” he said.
Editor Hannah Combs contributed to this story.