Cumberland Times-News, Md.
The number of medical calls for possible COVID-19 patients in Allegany County, including the city of Cumberland, tripled in one week — 36 for the seven-day period ending Aug. 23 — according to the county’s Department of Emergency Services.
The increased calls come as coronavirus cases in Western Maryland and the Potomac Highlands in nearby West Virginia have skyrocketed in recent weeks as the delta variant, a more contagious COVID-19 strain, has taken hold in the region. Earlier this week, Garrett County had Maryland’s highest seven-day positivity rate and Allegany County was third.
There were 12 calls dispatched by the Allegany County 911 Center for the seven-day period ending Aug. 16; six for the period ending Aug. 9 and four in the week ending Aug. 2, according to DES Deputy Director Roger Bennett.
Last month, there were only four such calls in Allegany County for the seven-day period ending July 26, one the previous week and none for the period ending July 12. Only one such call was recorded for the seven-day period ending July 6, Bennett said.
In Garrett County, there have been eight calls for possible COVID patients dispatched by the county’s 911 center in August and only one in the month of July, according to Wayne B. Tiemersma, the EMS Chief for the Garrett County Emergency Services.
“That’s a pretty high number for us in August,” said Tiemersma. “We only had one in July and that was on the 31st.”
First-responders routinely wear a mask and gloves on all medical calls.
“The crews wear gowns, eye protection, N95 mask and gloves …,” said Bennett.
In Mineral County, no statistics were available from the county’s Department of Emergency Centers on the number of COVID cases being dispatched, but he said they were on the rise.
“We just started using a screening tool again as a request from our first responders as our numbers begin to rise again with the spread of the delta variant,” said Luke McKenzie, emergency services director.
McKenzie said the county’s totals for COVID positive patients is accessible only through the Mineral County Health Department.
“911 does not track that information. We do not know what calls are COVID and which are not. We know which calls are for breathing difficulty but we have no way of tracking which calls are COVID,” he said.
Jeff Alderton is a Cumberland Times-News reporter. To reach him, call/text 304-639-6888, email firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter.
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