Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan today signed an emergency order requiring nursing home staff to wear full protective equipment and prioritizing testing for senior residents showing symptoms of COVID-19.
The order comes as 81 Maryland nursing homes now have known cases, according to the governor. Among them is the Pleasant View Nursing Home in Mount Airy, where more than 100 residents and staff have the virus and 10 have died as of today.
The order also comes after a story published yesterday in The Brew quoted a nurse saying that FutureCare had prohibited staff at its Canton facility from wearing protective masks earlier in the week. The facility reportedly has shortages of other personal protective equipment.
All nursing home personnel who are “in close contract with residents of nursing homes” are now required to wear face masks, gloves, gown and appropriate eye protection, according to today’s directive.
COVID Cases Rising
There are now 3,609 known COVID-19 cases statewide and 67 deaths, the Maryland Department of Health reported today.
That was an increase of 484 cases and 14 deaths from Saturday. Baltimore County now has 590 confirmed cases and Baltimore City has 394.
Seniors and those with underlying medical conditions are at greater risk from the disease than the general public.
Today’s order provides for expedited testing of sick residents in senior care facilities. This requires the use of COVID-19 test kits provided either by the state laboratory or another lab for seniors and staff that may have been exposed to the virus.
If seniors are hospitalized with the virus, they will have the right to return to their facility. “Facilities must cooperate with the Office of Health Care Quality and hospitals in the placement of discharged patients,” according to Hogan’s order.
Nursing homes are required to create separate spaces – a room, unit or floor – for residents with the disease or suspected of being infected.
Such residents will be kept for 14 days under observation, during which time they will be regularly examined for signs and symptoms of the virus.
Anyone knowingly and willfully violating the order will be subject to imprisonment of up to one year, a fine not exceeding $5,000, or both, according to Hogan.