While the statewide average of COVID-19 infections is declining, Kent maintains the second-highest infection rate in the state behind Prince George’s County — and nearly two-thirds of those cases are documented as “community spread,” said Kent County Health Officer Bill Webb in a brief interview on Monday.

The trend is moving away from nursing homes and concentrating more in the community, Webb said.

“The community spread cases have begun to significantly outpace our outbreaks in nursing homes in the last two weeks,” he said. “The majority of cases are related to our Spanish speaking laborers and are not tied to any specific business.”

Most of the cases are focused in the eastern portion of the county in Millington, Massey and Galena, and a few cases are attributed to Chestertown, Webb said.

Kent’s infection rate stands at 11.1 percent and Prince George’s has the highest rate in the state of 11.8 percent. The state currently has an average infection rate of 7.6 percent.

“We’ve been consistently number two,” Webb said.

Between May 25 and June 8 the Kent Health Department had 32 new cases and 23 were documented as “community spread.” Only nine were attributed to nursing homes. This represents a dramatic shift from late April when Webb reported that 80 percent of the cases in Kent were coming from nursing facilities.

The increase in the percentage of community spread cases in Kent come as Gov. Larry Hogan on Friday began to ease the state into Stage 2 of Maryland Strong Roadmap to Recovery, which allowed businesses like massage and tattoo parlors and nail salons to reopen.

Kent’s private sector not testing enough

These statistics as of Monday came on the day that Kent County’s temporary testing site opened at the county roads department at 709 Morgnec Road. Webb said 43 tests were conducted.

But the ability of the local health department here to maintain testing is limited and the private sector needs to step up, Webb said.

“The private sector has not stepped up whatsoever to provide any type of community testing,” he said. He said the University of Maryland Shore Health in Chestertown was only providing tests to those admitted to the hospital.

“Every other health system in the state is doing something [but] Shore Health is not,” he lamented. He also said primary care providers, pharmacies and testing labs were “not doing collections” for the virus here in Kent.

He said he was “sorely disappointed” with Shore Health for steering residents to Easton or the urgent care facility on Denton for testing.

“If the health department was not doing community testing, there’d be almost no testing for the residents here in Kent County,” Webb said. “The health department is going to provide testing as long as we can and that takes up a significant amount of staff resources. At some point, we’re going to have to say enough is enough.”

Feature image: National Guard Flickr