CommunityWilliam J. Ford

Hogan Mandates Coronavirus Testing at Maryland Nursing Homes, Assisted-Living Facilities

ANNAPOLIS — With the coronavirus outbreak spreading at Maryland nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, Gov. Larry Hogan issued an order Wednesday for universal treatment at those locations.

Hogan said testing now will be done on residents and staff regardless of whether they are showing symptoms.

One reason is that the confirmed cases at those places account for 12 percent of the state’s total and 46 percent of its coronavirus-related deaths.

As of 10 a.m. Wednesday in Montgomery County, slightly more than 1,000 out of its 4,150 confirmed cases were from nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. The county has the highest number of cases at nursing homes in the state and the second-highest overall total.

According to state data, FutureCare Lochearn in Baltimore City has recorded the highest number of confirmed cases so far with 220.

Hogan said a few officials at those places haven’t followed the state’s safety guidelines such as requiring all workers at nursing homes to wear masks.

To ensure workers and administrators comply with the state law, Col. Eric Allely, the state surgeon of the Maryland National Guard, will serve as an emergency safety and compliance officer for nursing homes.

“We are increasingly concerned and quite frankly outraged that a few operators are not complying with directives from the state,” Hogan said Wednesday during a press conference inside the State House in Annapolis. “We’re no longer playing defense. We are going on offense against this virus [and] attacking it from every angle with everything we’ve got.”

As of 10 a.m. Wednesday, the state Health Department reported roughly 21,000 confirmed cases, including nearly 1,000 deaths.

The majority-Black jurisdiction of Prince George’s County leads the state with more than 5,700 confirmed cases and 213 deaths.

The screening and testing site at FedEx Field in Landover shut down for good Wednesday, with its last scheduled day on Friday canceled due to anticipated inclement weather. However, residents can get tested at the Cheverly Health Center from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday and Friday.

Beginning Monday, the county’s health department will operate testing and screening at the health center in Cheverly from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The operations will be outside but covered to avoid closure due to weather.

Residents who need testing must call 301-883-6627 to schedule an appointment.

Gina Ford, spokeswoman for County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, said the goal is to provide up to 200 tests per day. Also, there are plans to open a screening and testing site in the northern and southern parts of the county.

In Annapolis, Hogan provided an update about the poultry industry on the Eastern Shore and in the neighboring states of Delaware and Virginia.

About 262 poultry workers in Maryland have been diagnosed with the virus. The state will open a testing site at Purdue Stadium in Salisbury.

Poultry has become a topic nationwide with President Donald Trump announcing Tuesday that meat processing plants will stay open via the Defense Production Act. However, some union leaders and advocates criticized the move because workers are in proximity to each other at thousands of these facilities.

The president’s announcement came after John H. Tyson, chairman of the board of Tyson Foods, wrote an op-ed published by several news outlets Sunday that “the food supply chain is vulnerable” after the business closed some of its plants.

Meanwhile, Hogan expressed some frustration with the state’s revamped unemployment website, which saw about 245,000 new accounts activated in the past week.

Hogan said the more than 100,000 new claims exceed all the claims filed last year. Although the state has filed an average of 780 new claims per hour, the governor said the fact that some people have waited hours to file claims online and by telephone “is simply not good enough.”

“The people of Maryland deserve better,” he said. “We will do whatever it takes it to get this straight so that every single Marylander gets every single penny of financial assistance they deserve.”

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William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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