Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is acting to address the COVID-19 clusters in nursing homes across the state.
Hogan issued an executive order requiring universal testing of all residents and staff at all Maryland nursing homes. Facilities will be prioritized based on outbreaks or risk level.
Any staff members who test positive for the virus will be discharged into isolation, the governor said.
Coronavirus Cases & Deaths in Long-Term Care Facilities
COVID-19 cases and deaths in long-term care facilities in D.C. and Maryland.
All nursing homes must have a physician or nurse evaluate residents on a daily basis and must develop surge staffing plans.
The state is creating bridge teams composed of registered nurses and aides that can be deployed to nursing homes to help with care. Nursing homes will be required to cooperate with the teams, which also include National Guard members, as well as state and local health officials, Hogan said.
Hogan’s order also requires nursing homes to provide regular informational updates to residents, families and staff regarding COVID-19 cases.
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The governor said the tests will be required, whether residents or staff show symptoms or not. Hogan said 19 percent of all positive cases in the state and 46 percent of all deaths are patients in nursing homes.
“With our expanded universal testing, we should expect to see the number of positive cases significantly rise among both nursing home residents and staff,” Hogan said.
While the governor said the vast majority of nursing home operators are committed to quality care, he said the state is “increasingly concerned and quite frankly outraged” by a few operators who have not been complying with state law. As a result, Hogan named Col. Eric Allely, the state surgeon of the Maryland National Guard, to serve as a compliance officer to ensure nursing homes are complying with state law.
Hogan also gave an update on efforts to fix difficulties with the the state's unemployment insurance website. He said a new website was launched on Friday, and more than 245,000 accounts have been activated. More than 100,000 new claims have been filed.
Still, he said the work was “simply not good enough.”
“The IT contractor who developed this site and the Department of Labor have fallen short of the high standard that we have set, and the people of Maryland deserve better, and the buck stops with me,” Hogan said, adding that the state will “do whatever it takes to get this straight so that every single Marylander gets every single penny of financial assistance that they deserve.”