For the first time since December 4, the Maryland Department of Health is again releasing data on the number of new coronavirus cases across the country.
However, it remains unclear how many new cases are currently reported in Montgomery County or other jurisdictions. The state has removed all references to a breakdown for each district previously posted on the state dashboard.
Andy Owen, a spokesman for the Maryland Department of Health, wrote in an email that “We are working methodically to accurately restore our full levels of coverage. According to the notice on our dashboard, we will be reporting more monitoring information again as soon as possible – including deaths and numbers by jurisdiction. “
The state had reported hospitalizations and other coronavirus metrics since the beginning of this month, but no case numbers.
The state was hit by a cyber attack. The Department of Health called this a “network security incident”.
Owen wrote in an email that “there is still no evidence that data has been compromised” and ran a Bethesda Beat reporter to a website with more information about the incident.
Part of the website reads: “On December 4, 2021, MDH detected unauthorized activity involving multiple network infrastructure systems. Immediate countermeasures were taken to contain the incident and servers were taken offline to protect the network.
“The state’s chief information security officer has established a command structure that focuses on protecting the MDH network, conducting a forensic investigation, and restoring core services.
“Due to the government’s aggressive cybersecurity strategy and the use of MD THINK and other cloud-based services, many of the department’s core functions were not affected. There is still no evidence that any data has been compromised.
“In order to avoid additional damage and not endanger sensitive health information, we proceed methodically and consciously when restoring network systems and prioritize health and safety functions.
“As part of an ongoing criminal investigation, we actively met with law enforcement partners at the federal and federal level.”
During a news conference on Monday, James Bridgers, acting health officer for Montgomery County told reporters that the county has contracted some laboratories to determine the overall positivity rate and daily case rate, but it’s an incomplete picture that only about 15 to 20% of the cases covers all data in these categories.
Bridgers added that the problem was not with the collection of data, but rather with the issue and dissemination of it to local jurisdictions.
“They continue to collect the data when outputting the information and exchanging data is a challenge during implementation [a] Security, ”said Bridgers.
The government dashboard is important because some of the tests run nationwide – especially by private providers and other institutions – are sent to government laboratories to see if the tests are positive or negative.
The county is running some of its own tests and reporting them to the state, but to get a full picture of each and every data source the state has collected and included on its COVID-19 dashboard.
Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Earl Stoddard said in an interview the county is still unaware of test results from hospitals, laboratories not affiliated with the county, and other sources that report directly to the state.
Monday’s update to the State dashboard seemed to suggest that the community’s penetration has increased since December 4th. On that day, the state’s 7-day positivity rate was around 5.5%. On Monday it had risen to around 10.3%.
Stoddard said that despite the limited data, an increase in the positivity rate, even with increasing test volume, suggests that the virus is likely to be more likely to be transmitted.
Around December 3, the county’s positivity rate was between 3% and 4%, he said. Last week the positivity rate was over 9%.
“That is an indication that we are definitely seeing a rapid surge in cases, that’s for sure,” said Stoddard.
Bridgers said there were ways to gauge the increasing penetration of the Montgomery County community, but there were still some loopholes. For example, if the county reported a 2% positivity rate on Monday and a 7% positivity rate on Friday, it indicates an increasing prevalence in the community, Bridgers said.
“We don’t know whether it is still the Delta variant strain or the Omicron variant strain.
Steve Bohnel can be reached at [email protected]