Dozens of people may have been exposed to the novel coronavirus when a patient attended an event at a retirement community in Rockville before they knew they were sick.
Maryland's health officials on Friday announced that between 70 and 100 people were potentially exposed to the new coronavirus that's sickened thousands worldwide.
One of the three people who has been confirmed in Maryland to have the COVID-19 virus attended at gathering at The Village at Rockville Feb. 28, Gov. Larry Hogan said at a news conference.
The time period of risk of exposure was from noon to 6 p.m. that day, the governor said. Between 70 and 100 people who attended the event may be at some risk for acquiring COVID-19, Hogan said.
“We are providing these updates not to unnecessarily raise alarm but in the interest of full transparency and out of an abundance of caution," Hogan said.
The health department is recommending people who attended the event monitor themselves for symptoms of a respiratory infection including fever, cold-like symptoms, cough, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath until March 13.
Until then, the department said people who attended the event should check their temperature twice a day and notify their health care provider and local health department if their temperature is greater than 100.4 degrees or they develop a respiratory illness.
A woman whose 89-year-old father lives at the retirement community said she and her 12-year-old daughter were visiting Friday evening when they heard Hogan warn of the possible risk on the news.
“I’m in my father’s room, he’s eating his dinner, he’s a double amputee, he’s 89 years old,” Peggy Weldon said. “And on comes Gov. Hogan to make the announcement. I’m sitting there with my 12-year-old daughter, and we hear Gov. Hogan say, ‘The Villages at Rockville.’ I go and talk to the nurse staff. They weren’t aware of it. I told them. I said, ‘You folks need to have masks.’”
The Village at Rockville said in a statement it is working closely with the health department and following its recommendations. No residents or staff have been diagnosed with the coronavirus or are showing any symptoms.
“Our primary focus is to maintain our highest level of well-being for our residents and team members,” said Kyle Hrebren, executive director at The Village at Rockville. “We will remain diligent in taking the necessary precautions to ensure the health and safety of our community and the greater Rockville community.”
Officials also said one of the three Maryland residents who has tested positive for the virus attended an event in the Philadelphia area with a group of children and staff in the Central Bucks County school district. The school district closed five schools Friday as a result, Hogan said.
The Maryland Department of Health advises people to:
- Avoid interaction with people who are sick/ill
- If you are sick, please stay at home
- Do not travel if you are sick/ill
- Wash your hands often with soap and water
- Use an alcohol-based sanitizer if soap and water is not available
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when coughing or sneezing
- If you were potentially exposed to coronavirus and feel sick, call your health care provider before going