Montgomery County COVID-19 cases could peak in late April, health official says

Montgomery County COVID-19 cases could peak in late April, health official says

Leaders working with local universities to refine ‘unofficial projection’

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Montgomery County’s cases of the coronavirus could peak in late April, a local health official said Monday night.

The “unofficial projection” that still needs to be refined shows the peak at approximately April 29, Montgomery County Deputy Health Officer Dr. James Bridgers said during a virtual town hall meeting. The peak in cases is significant because it signals the rate of infection has climaxed and could begin to slow.

Bridgers cautioned, however, that county officials are still working with area universities to perfect the model.

During a phone conference call with reporters on Monday afternoon, U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen said he and Sen. Ben Cardin have been following modeling estimates and have heard that Maryland can expect its peak around early May.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, an independent global health research center at the University of Washington, has a website of national modeling and by state.

For Maryland, it projects April 19 as when Maryland will hit its peak of daily deaths, at 138. The projection is for the number to then consistently decline until mid-May, when there are no more deaths.

In Montgomery County, the number of cases has grown quickly, reaching 793 on Monday, an increase of 100 cases from the day prior. Statewide, 4,045 confirmed cases were recorded Monday and 91 people had died.

The state’s trajectory is increasing as the rate of additional cases each day grows.

County Council Member Tom Hucker said during the town hall meeting, which he hosted, that he and other council members plan to send a letter to state officials on Tuesday requesting that patients’ demographic information — such as race and ethnicity — be released publicly.

The U.S. surgeon general recently said this week will be “the hardest and the saddest” of “most Americans’ lives.

To describe the anticipated widespread illness and death, Vice Admiral Jerome Adams said it will “be our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment.”

As of Monday evening in the United States, more than 357,000 people had been infected and 10,500 people had died.

State officials have not given forecasts of when Maryland might reach its peak in cases.
On Twitter on Monday night, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s communications director, Mike Ricci, wrote that forecasting models can vary widely depending on data used to create the models.

“Rather than relying on a specific model or specific projection, [the Maryland Department of Health’s] use of modeling is a tool for broad planning purposes and not as a concrete forecast of what will happen as COVID-19 cases continue to increase across Maryland,” Ricci wrote.

During his daily briefings, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said the various modeling provided to his state varies widely. He said there also is not a consensus on what happens at the peak — whether it plateaus at the high level or immediately starts to drop.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on March 30 issued a statewide stay-at-home order, largely confining residents to their homes, except when venturing out to work at essential businesses, buy food or medication, receive medical care or exercise outdoors.

Schools are closed and students are learning online. Restaurants and bars are closed to sit-down services and only available for delivery and carry-out. People are prohibited from gathering in groups with more than 10 people and are urged to stay 6 feet apart from others.

A state-hosted drive-thru coronavirus testing site is expected to open this week at a Maryland Vehicle Administration emissions testing site in White Oak.

To qualify for testing, residents must have symptoms, obtain an order from a health care provider and make an appointment.

Managing Editor Andrew Schotz contributed to this story.

Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at caitlynn.peetz@bethesdamagazine.com

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For other Bethesda Beat coverage of the coronavirus, click here.

To see a timeline of major coronavirus developments in Maryland and Montgomery County, click here

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