This morning (March 25), the 4th Calvert County case of coronavirus infection was confirmed. This person is currently recovering at home. As with previous cases, Calvert Health Department nurses have obtained detailed health and contact histories from this person within one hour of notification from the testing laboratory. Our nurses have already reached out to those who had sufficient contact to put them at risk of becoming infected.
The Health Department staff understands how concerning this epidemic is to everyone across Calvert. Regardless of time of day or day of the week, our staff is immediately responding to all positive test results. Our ongoing goal is to notify those at elevated risk of infection as quickly as possible, so those people take appropriate precautions to isolate themselves per CDC guidelines. Along with everyone in the general public limiting contact with others, washing their hands frequently, and staying home if they develop any respiratory symptoms or fevers, we will minimize the spread of coronavirus and prevent severe illnesses and deaths.
Social media continues to churn with posts about individuals who are supposedly infected with coronavirus and settings in which people could have been infected. Most of these posts have been wrong and are leading to unnecessary stress in our community. The Health Department is asking people not to propagate unfounded rumors.
The health and safety of everyone in Calvert is critically important to us. The Health Department staff, along with our families, are part of the Southern Maryland community. We have a professional, ethical duty to provide the most timely and accurate information to everyone. We will continue to personally contact those at increased risk as a result of exposure to confirmed cases of coronavirus infection. At the same time, we have a legal obligation to protect confidential health information. As a result, information on specific cases that is not necessary to protect those at direct risk will not be provided via our website or social media posts.
We hope everyone understands that we are all in this together. That applies to both our physical and emotional well-being. Younger, healthier people should offer to get groceries and medication for family and neighbors who are more at risk of severe illness. For those on social media, stick with verifiable information pertaining to coronavirus and look for funny or calming posts to lift people’s spirits, especially on rainy days like today with so many people are stuck at home.
Please take care of yourselves and those around you. We’d also like to give recognition to the Emergency Department staff, respiratory therapists, and others at Calvert Medical Center as well as EMS workers as they take care of patients during this pandemic. The Health Department will continue to provide updates as they become available.
UPDATE: March 25, 2020:
An extremely unusual situation has developed over the past five days. The Calvert Health Department has always been truthful with the information we provide. In the interest of transparency, we are notifying you of the following events that have occurred in relation to the 7-11 on Hallowing Point Road.
On March 21st, a person connected to the store was tested for coronavirus. This individual falsified a positive result, leading to a temporary store closure and a swirl of social media conjecture. The result from this test is still pending. The lab to which it was sent to has a current wait time of nearly 10 days. In other words, at the present time it is not know whether that person does or does not have coronavirus.
Before it was realized that the initial report was falsified, another person who works at the store was tested by their family doctor. This test went to a different lab with a much faster turnaround time. That test was reported today did show coronavirus.
Given the very unexpected turn of events, both the store owner and the 7-11 corporation have decided that it’s in the best interest of public health to close the store on Hallowing Point Road and another Calvert store, under the same ownership, located in Prince Frederick. These stores will stay closed for 14 days as per CDC guidance to prevent transmission.
The situation was discussed with the Director of Environmental and Occupational Health at the Maryland Department of Health who agreed with the decision.
Employees are being contacted individually to provide appropriate health precautions. Given the limited amount of direct contact most customers have in a convenience store, the potential for customers to have acquired coronavirus in either store is very low. However, customers who entered either store between March 12th-25th are advised to contact their personal health care provider if they develop any respiratory symptoms or fevers. For those who have no symptoms, over the next two weeks, they should take additional precautions of washing their hands frequently and they may want to avoid contact with people over age 60 and people of any age with weakened immune systems.
The Calvert Health Department will continue to monitor employees’ health over the next 14 days and provide updates if new information becomes available.