HARFORD COUNTY, Md. (WJZ) – The Upper Chesapeake Medical Center is reporting near capacity rates Friday.

“We are concerned,” Harford County Executive Barry Glassman said. “The numbers are approaching the high numbers that we experienced prior to vaccinations about a year and a half ago.”

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Although the state-run COVID-19 dashboard is partly down due to a recent hack, hospitalizations stemming from COVID infections are still being reported.

“We are currently still tracking our hospital numbers, so we know that we have about 60 individuals in our two hospitals that have been admitted,” Glassman said. “Half of them, around 30, are in critical care.”

The county executive also added that 75% of those recently hospitalized are unvaccinated.

“It’s fairly evident with the new variants and so forth, that we’re going to have to deal and manage with it in everyday life: in the school system, the hospital system and in the general public,” he said. “The vaccines are proven safe and effective, they are ready and available when you are and I would say now is the time to make that decision before we go into what looks like is going be a tough winter.”

While hospitals prepare for a second surge following the next two major holidays, the county’s school system is renewing COVID mitigation efforts to slow the spread.

According to Harford County Schools, nine schools are in a school-wide outbreak status.

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The state has defined a school-wide outbreak as at least three classrooms or cohorts with cases from separate households in 14 days; or 5% of unrelated students, teachers or staff (at least 10 who are unrelated) testing positive for COVID within a 14-day period.

On Wednesday, the state updated the COVID case numbers in schools throughout the state.

According to the site, Youth’s Benefit Elementary School in Fallston leads Maryland in positive cases with 110.

Three other schools in the county also reported 20 or more cases, including Jarrettsville Elementary, Fountain Green Elementary and Harford Technical High School.

The schools on the list will be removed once two weeks have passed without any new cases or tests pending, according to the Maryland Department of Health.

Harford County Schools is implementing social distancing and hosting virtual meetings when possible.

The Harford County Health Department is offering free rapid test kits before the Christmas holiday.

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One kit per person will be given out from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 22 at the health department’s Woodbridge branch.

Cristina Mendez