Dr. Gregory Wm. Branch, director of Baltimore County’s health department, has tested positive for coronavirus but will continue working from home, officials said.
Branch was tested at a Baltimore County clinic after experiencing a mild cough and mild voice loss, said county spokesperson Sean Naron.
The lab results from that test, which came back positive, were communicated to staff today, Naron said.
Naron declined to say when Branch was tested or received his positive test results due to privacy standards under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
Branch does not know how or when he contracted the disease, Naron said.
“But it is indeed a reminder of how contagious COVID can be and why it’s so important that everyone is taking safety precautions,” the spokesperson added.
In a statement, Branch reminded people that the coronavirus is “still very much with us and that we are all susceptible.”
He added that “we must take every precaution to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe,” such as wearing face coverings inside public places and when physical distancing is not possible outdoors; practicing physical distancing; frequently washing your hands with soap and water or using hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol; and staying at home if you do not feel well.
Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. echoed Branch’s sentiment, saying in a statement that the health director’s positive tests results are “another stark reminder that we are all at risk.”
“All of us in Baltimore County are praying for a full and quick recovery for Dr. Branch after learning he has tested positive for COVID-19,” Olszewski said. “From the beginning, he has been ably leading the County’s response to the crisis and I am grateful for his ongoing service.
Branch will continue to work remotely, which he had already been doing “as often as possible in accordance with county policy,” Naron said.
“He’s in self-isolation at home, but is continuing to participate in day-to-day county-related business,” Naron said.
Naron added that Branch’s diagnosis will not affect his role in the county’s response to the pandemic.
“He continues to be involved and the team at the health department continues to admirably serve on the front lines of this crisis,” Naron said.