UPDATED: Coronavirus cases in Montgomery more than double in two days; police officer tests positive

UPDATED: Coronavirus cases in Montgomery more than double in two days; police officer tests positive

County says officer had ‘limited interaction’ with public

| Published:
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As the number of coronavirus cases in Montgomery County continues to rise, the county on Saturday said one of its police officers has tested positive for the disease.

A press release said the male Montgomery County police officer had “limited interaction” with the public, but worked across “several sections” of the department.

Julie Parker, a county spokeswoman, wrote in an email to Bethesda Beat Saturday that the officer is “under isolation and clinically stable.” She added that county officials don’t think his case was travel related.

Parker declined to elaborate on the officer’s job title or responsibilities, citing patient privacy laws.

“In order to balance public information with HIPAA,” she wrote, referring to the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which protect’s patients medical records, “we aren’t specifying people’s roles at work, but felt it important the public know the officer had limited interaction with the public.”

The county had 68 reported cases as of Saturday, up from 33 on Thursday and 51 on Friday. It was not clear if the police officer’s case was included in the 68.

Overall, Maryland had 190 cases as of Saturday, up from 107 on Thursday and 149 on Friday.

Prince George’s County had the second highest number of cases as of Saturday, with 36.

Health and government officials have emphasized that they are expecting the numbers to rise as more people have access to tests and get tested.

New testing sites have begun in some jurisdictions across the state, including drive-thru sites. Montgomery County is hoping to start a drive-thru site soon.

MedStar Health — which operates several hospitals in Washington, D.C., and Maryland, including MedStar Montgomery Medical Center in Olney — has offered to operate a drive-thru site in Montgomery.

MedStar hopes to have a drive-thru facility up by the end of next week and is considering several locations, spokeswoman Marianne Worley said Friday.

Montgomery County is interested in putting it at the site of the former White Flint Mall, County Executive Marc Elrich said Friday.

The state also is working on plans for drive-thru coronavirus testing sites, putting them at Motor Vehicle Administration emissions testing facilities that are now closed. Hogan said it will depend on whether the state can get enough tests to make it work well.

Dr. Travis Gayles, the county’s health officer, said in the press release that it was the first case of a county police officer testing positive for coronavirus disease, or COVID-19. Gayles said it was “concerning,” but “not surprising,” that a first responder tested positive.

“Please know we are diligently working to keep all our first responders, county employees and residents as safe as possible,” he said in the press release.

Sgt. Rebecca Innocenti, a police spokeswoman, referred all questions to county health officials.

Earlier this month, a male volunteer fire fighter who works in Montgomery County and lives in Virginia tested positive for COVID-19. Gov. Larry Hogan said his case was connected to an outbreak of the virus at Christ Church Georgetown in Washington, D.C., where the congregation’s rector tested positive.

The number of reported cases of coronavirus disease in Montgomery County has more than doubled since Thursday, according to the latest Maryland Department of Health figures, released on Saturday.

Maryland now has two coronavirus deaths.

One was a man from Prince George’s County in his 60s described as having underlying health problems.

The second, announced Friday night, was a Baltimore County man in his 60s, also with underlying health problems.

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