The region’s average number of daily infections hovered Friday just below the record set on May 31, when it stood at 2,218 daily cases.
Local leaders and health experts have urged people not to let down their guard, especially during Halloween festivities. Officials reminded residents to practice social distancing, wear masks and forgo traditional trick-or-treating.
Despite the local rise in cases, rates of infection across the region are about half the national average.
Amy R. Sapkota, a professor of environmental health at the University of Maryland, said doctors are beginning to see more transmissions in younger people attending events like birthday parties for children, as well as college students involved in social activities.
“Many people want their lives to go back to normal,” Sapkota said. “People are tired of wearing masks, social distancing. This combination of factors is contributing to the increase we’re seeing.”
At Frostburg State University in Western Maryland, officials halted in-person classes this week after an outbreak of cases on campus.
The school’s health center recorded 12 positive tests Wednesday and Thursday, pushing the number of active cases on campus to 32, said Liz Medcalf, a university spokeswoman.
“We’re a small campus and that’s a relatively small clinic, so that was a significant uptick for them,” Medcalf said. “It doesn’t seem to be community spread but we’re still working on contact tracing.”
The campus expects to resume in-person classes Wednesday.
Fewer than 1,150 students are living on campus this semester, compared with 1,800 who typically fill the residence halls, Medcalf said. An additional 400 students are living in a public-private apartment complex on campus.
The “vast majority” of active cases are among students, she said. University President Ronald Nowaczyk this month warned students to continue wearing masks and to sanitize their hands as the test positive rate on campus exceeded 5 percent.
The university community accounts for about one-quarter of active cases in Allegany County, Medcalf said.
The county’s seven-day average of new infections surged from about five daily cases two weeks ago to 17 on Friday, according to health department data. The county's 42 new cases reported Friday were the most in a single day during the pandemic.
The growing caseload is stoking fears among university staff.
Danielle Dabrowski, president of the university’s chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said the school has not negotiated new safety standards with workers since the pandemic began.
“The university administration failed to bargain health and safety with AFSCME and failed to notify our membership of any increases in cases and community spread,” she said in a statement. “The failure to bargain and lack of transparency continues the trend by the Frostburg administration to go it alone.”
The greater Washington region Friday recorded 2,453 new coronavirus cases and 18 additional deaths. Virginia added 1,456 cases and seven deaths, Maryland added 927 cases and 10 deaths, and D.C. added 70 cases and one death. It’s the fourth consecutive day with more than 2,000 new cases.
Virginia is on track to surpass its seven-day average caseload — a number that stood Friday at 1,194 infections. That’s four cases below a record set on Aug. 8.