Maryland Health Department to Release Nursing Home Outbreak Data

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Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan directed the state's health department Monday to begin releasing detailed information on outbreaks at long-term care facilities.

The move comes after some families have struggled to get information about cases at their loved ones' homes.

As recently as Friday, the Maryland Department of Health and each of the counties were still denying News4's public information requests, saying release of that information serves no public health purpose and could lead to the identification of patients.

At least three residents of a nursing home in Charles County, Maryland, have died from COVID-19, their families tell News4.

Gov. Larry Hogan, however, is now directing the state to release the names of all Maryland long-term care facilities with COVID-19 outbreaks, including the number of cases and deaths. The detailed information will be provided with the state's daily updates on its website.

The new transparency will give families a way to confirm that they're getting accurate information from their loved one's assisted living or nursing home, which William Makell was pushing for. He says he's tried repeatedly to get information on cases where his aunt lives.

"I was told that if there was an outbreak, that the state mandate that the facility would abide by would be that the families would be notified. And then after that, they wouldn't provide any additional information," Makell said. 

Earlier this month, the federal government began requiring long-term care facilities to report COVID-19 cases and deaths to residents and their families. Consumer and health policy advocates said that was not enough.

"I don't think we can just trust them. I think that the public, again, has a responsibility to track that. And we can't do that and we can't hold them accountable if we don't have the information," Leni Preston said.

Now, families in Maryland will have that information, although the state did not say when this week the data would be posted.

D.C. was the first in the region to embrace this transparency releasing a list of facilities about two weeks ago. Virginia is still refusing to disclose which facilities have cases, and is only releasing the numbers.

Go here to see Maryland's coronavirus data.

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