All Maryland nursing home residents and staff will be tested for COVID-19 under a new executive order, Gov. Larry Hogan announced Wednesday.
There are 4,011 COVID-19 cases at 143 nursing homes in Maryland. 46 percent of deaths from the illness are nursing home residents, Hogan said.
The executive order also requires all nursing homes to have a physician, nurse practitioner, physician’s assistant or registered nurse evaluate all residents daily. Facilities will be prioritized based on an imminent outbreak or threat of an outbreak, Hogan said.
The executive order also requires all nursing homes to have a physician, nurse practitioner, physician's assistant or registered nurse to evaluate all residents daily.
— Maryam Shahzad (@maryam_mcm) April 29, 2020
All long-term care facilities must develop emergency surge staffing plans under the order, in case there is an outbreak and staff shortage. Hogan announced that existing strike teams created to help nursing home needs will be supplemented with bridge teams. The bridge teams will provide emergency healthcare staffing to nursing homes with an outbreak and are ready for immediate deployment, Hogan said. Each team has a registered nurse and five to seven aides, totaling 260 nurses and aides overall.
Hogan’s order requires regular updates to long-term care residents, resident representatives and staff about COVID-19 infections.
“I mean it is heart wrenching enough that families can’t visit their loved ones. But it’s even worse when they can’t get information about what is happening inside these facilities. Nursing homes will be required to keep families informed on a regular basis,” Hogan said.
He said there are a few nursing home operators who are not following state safety directives about COVID-19. Hogan announced that he appointed Col. Dr. Eric Allely, the state surgeon for the Maryland Army National Guard, to be the Emergency Safety and Compliance Officer for nursing homes. He will lead a team to make sure facilities follow state law.
Earlier this week, the state began releasing numbers for cases at nursing homes in Maryland.
“Under normal circumstances the health department does not publish this information because of patient privacy concerns,” Hogan said.
“But we have taken this unprecedented step out of our commitment to fight these outbreaks and to provide the public with the most thorough and accurate data available in order to understand and defeat this deadly virus.”
LIVE: COVID-19 Update – April 29, 2020
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— Governor Larry Hogan (@GovLarryHogan) April 29, 2020