Council meetings to be held remotely through January

The Talbot County Council will conduct its meetings virtually through the end of 2020 in response to rising COVID-19 metrics in the county. Pictured are Council Vice President Chuck Callahan, left, and President Corey Pack.

EASTON — The Talbot County Council decided Tuesday its remaining meetings this year will be held remotely at the recommendation of the county health officer in response to local rising COVID-19 infection rates.

The council has been meeting in person on-and-off since the pandemic hit the county in March as they struggled to continue regular government operations under the constant threat of a deadly virus.

When it comes to pandemic-related issues facing the county, the lawmakers often have been split on what actions should be taken to curb the virus’s spread. Tuesday’s indefinite move to an all virtual meeting format, however, was decisive, with all five members appearing to be on board.

The change comes after the county announced it was shuttering its classrooms to students — many of whom had been receiving in-person schooling since Oct. 12 — in reaction to reported poorly trending COVID-19 metrics at the state and county levels.

Talbot County’s 7-day averaged case rate per 100,000 people increased significantly in recent days from 5.8 one week ago on Nov. 11 to 16.5 on Wednesday, Nov. 18.

Wednesday marked the county’s third consecutive day reporting a case rate above 15, which according to health experts, indicates a high virus transmission risk among individuals in a given area. Talbot’s positivity rate also has been above 5% for the last three days.

The county health department reported Wednesday just over 720 Talbot residents are confirmed to have contracted the virus since March. The majority of the county’s infections are occurring among Easton residents, according to state health data.

The Maryland Department of Health data show 556 cases have been reported among Easton residents to date; 46 in Trappe; 37 in Cordova; 26 in St. Michaels; 22 in Oxford; and 9 in Royal Oak.

Of the council’s move to remote meetings, which will be in effect at least through January 2021, Council President Corey Pack said it was the right thing to do to “stem the tide of this deadly virus.”

“I think it’s just out of an abundance of caution that we proceed through January with a virtual format,” Pack said, adding the council’s system for conducting its meetings remotely “works very well.”

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