Talbot County has confirmed its first positive case of COVID-19, officials announced at an early Sunday night press conference.
The patient has been hospitalized after coming into contact with a person in another county infected with the COVID-19 virus. When the Talbot County resident developed symptoms, the person went to the Shore Regional Medical Center, was tested and was found to be positive for the virus.
“We all send out our thoughts and prayers to the patient and the family,” Corey Pack, president of the Talbot County Council, said.
Dr. Fredia Wadley, the county’s health officer, said Talbot’s first confirmed case was one of “community transmission. It means it was not related to travel, it was related to contact with someone else who has the virus.” That person was not in Talbot County.
“Staff from the health department are contacting those who have been exposed to this person and, if they have symptoms, we are asking them to take appropriate measures,” Wadley said. “The proven public health method of managing the spread of such an infection is to identify cases and then isolate them and the people with whom they have had contact.”
“At the same time, we also want to reiterate that there’s things you can do to take care of yourself and your family — simply washing your hands and using (disinfecting wipes) on surface tops,” she said. “All of that we do to try to keep down the flu, it’s the same thing we’re going to try to do to keep down COVID-19.”
Having a proven case of the virus in Talbot County of a person who has not traveled elevates official’s concerns. Healthcare professionals stress that elderly people with chronic conditions and those with weakened immune systems should avoid crowds and people who are sick.
“This new development underscores the need for increased testing,” Wadley said. “Anyone experiencing flu-like symptoms such as cough, fever, and shortness of breath should call their primary care physician immediately.”
Pack said Talbot County will declare a local state of emergency on Monday, allowing the county to activate additional state and federal resources.
County offices will be closed to the public effective Tuesday, March 17. Healthy staff will be expected to report as scheduled and will be answering phone calls and emails.
“We’re not reacting out of fear, but out of an abundance of caution allowing our staff to take care of themselves and their families,” Pack said.
“We stand shoulder to shoulder with the governor and his executive declaration,” he said. “We’re working with all of our partner agencies, the health department, public schools, emergency services, department of social services and many other state and local agencies to make sure that we give a clear, concise and complete message to the citizens of Talbot County.”
“We want to make sure that everyone stays safe, we want to make sure you’re washing your hands thoroughly or using sanitizer, make sure you’re using disinfecting wipes around your work area and around your home, and just make sure that if you’re feeling poorly that you contact your physician to get in to see them as soon as possible,” Pack said.
Kelly Griffith, the county’s school superintendent, said the schools and volunteer groups are working together to ensure the county’s children are fed while schools are shut down.
“We’re going to be feeding … children, any children from ages 2 through 18, every (week) day between 9 and 11, they can come to Easton Middle School or St. Michaels Middle/High School and pick up a breakfast and lunch during that time each day of the week and on Fridays, they will also get a CarePack for the weekend with enough meals for the entire weekend for all of the children,” Griffith said.
Pack also said county schools and the health department are “looking at a childcare sheltering program for essential and mission-critical employees.”
“We’ll be opening the Head Start building at Easton Elementary school behind the Dobson building and that will be one of the places we do school aged shelter in place for children of critical, essential employees and the Early Head Start on Bay Street and we also will be providing meals as well,” Griffith said.
Wadley said the health department’s school nurses and the Early Head Start staffers will be available to help run those child care centers.
“We’re just working through the difficulties of how to set that up,” she said.
To support the health department’s efforts in leading this response, Talbot County Emergency Services has activated its Emergency Operations Center (EOC). This coalition of community partners is working together to coordinate the county’s response and disseminate information about this public health crisis.
“We are in frequent contact with county and state officials and our private-sector partners,” said Clay Stamp, the county’s emergency services director and assistant county manager. “We are reviewing plans and deciding the best course of action to keep the residents of Talbot County safe and informed.”
The Talbot County EOC will be releasing information about the virus, including any new confirmed cases. Staff are currently posting information on the Talbot County Emergency Services website and on the DES Facebook page as it becomes available. The department also expects to launch a dedicated COVID-19 website (talbotcovid19.org) this week that will summarize all of the county information and will allow hourly updates when indicated to keep residents informed.
“Our goal is to provide you with information that is timely, accurate, and credible,” Stamp said. “As soon as new cases are confirmed, we will immediately update the website and our Facebook page to reflect the number of confirmed cases in our county.”
For more information about Talbot County’s response to the coronavirus COVID-19, log on to talbotdes.org or visit the TalbotDES Facebook page.
Where to Find More Information
• CDC COVID-2019 Website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
• Talbot County COVID-19 Information www.talbotdes.org/covid19.asp
• Maryland Department of Health Website: https://health.maryland.gov/pages/home.aspx
• Talbot County Health Department Website:
• Talbot County Health Department Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TalbotHealthMaryland/
• Talbot County Department of Emergency Services Website: https://www.talbotdes.org/default.asp