The COVID-19 positivity rate in Montgomery County has seen a slight uptick in the past week to 30.74 cases per 100,000 residents. according to the county COVID-19 dashboard. However, within the county, the COVID-19 community level remains low. The week prior, there were 23.79 cases per 100,000 residents. In comparison, on July 1, there had been 7.01 cases per 100,000 residents in the previous week.
“This is not a surprise. Over the last few years during the late summer timeframe, we have seen wavelengths of COVID,” county chief health officer Dr. Kisha Davis said during a press briefing Wednesday. “So, it’s kind of an expected part and maybe part of the trend that we see with this virus to see a summer as well as a winter wave.”
Across Maryland, there have been 1,840 cases of COVID-19 and 11 deaths between Aug. 22 and Aug. 29, according to state health department data. There are two ICU hospitalization cases in the state but none in the county, according to the data.
“Just looking specifically at Montgomery County and the hospitalizations, we’ve seen very low numbers,” Davis said. “I think that that is quite reassuring.”
Davis added that it’s difficult to know exact rates because fewer people are taking PCR tests and positivity results are more frequently coming from at-home tests. The county is also still collecting wastewater data to measure COVID-19 prevalence.
Based on county data, the testing percent positivity rate is around 15%, Davis said.
Davis encouraged community members to continue to mask in crowded settings and keep up to date on vaccines and boosters. David said the positivity rate is still low enough that there’s not a need for major widespread precautions. She said that most vaccinated individuals either are immune to the virus or will experience only minor symptoms.
“What we’re seeing with this illness is that it tends to be pretty mild and that the folks who are needing to be hospitalized are the ones who already have many comorbid illnesses,” Davis said.
However, she encouraged community members to take precautions, which may vary based on the situation and the vulnerability of the people they are spending time with.
“You should also be thinking about what your personal level of risk is, and that conversation is going to be different for someone who may be elderly or has many comorbid conditions or is immunocompromised, than someone who has a generally healthy immune system,” Davis said. “We are not at the point where we are saying we need to go back to mask mandates or things like that. But if you are going to be traveling or if you’re going to be around elderly grandparents, you may want to take a little bit more precaution.”
Dr. James Bridgers, director of the county’s Department of Health and Human Services, said at the briefing that even the simplest precautions can make a big difference, and emphasized the importance of washing hands.
“Washing your hands is one of the most proven effective public health practices to prevent and mitigate the transmission of disease,” Bridgers said.
Davis said the new COVID-19 vaccine that is being developed to combat the XBB variant strain should be available in the fall.
While the county health department will be providing doses, it will be available through private healthcare providers. Davis encouraged community members to stay up to date on flu shots and consider the RSV vaccine.