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One dead after 66 residents at a nursing home in Mount Airy test positive for COVID-19

Gov. Larry Hogan announced the nursing home outbreak during a news conference.

MOUNT AIRY, Md. — Carroll County officials announced that a man in his 90s with underlying health conditions passed away Saturday after 66 residents at Pleasant View Nursing Home in Mount Airy, Md. tested positive for COVID-19.

The county is working to isolate all the residents in the building and those that need to be taken care of, said Ed Singer, Caroll County Health Officer. At this time, the facility is not moving patients in and out of the building, unless there is an emergency situation.

“We never thought we would be in a situation like this, with an incident of this magnitude,” said Stephen Wantz, Carroll County Commissioner.

Pleasant View is a comprehensive care facility that the health department said has 104 beds, a few of which are listed as single beds in a private room by the Maryland Health Care Commission.

The facility reported its first positive coronavirus case on March 7. On March 28, they confirmed 64 new cases, bringing the total number of cases in the nursing home to 66. Staff or employees are not reported in this number, Singer said. 

A daughter of one of the patients at the nursing home who tested positive for coronavirus told WUSA that her mother had a fever around 105 degrees before being taken to the hospital on Saturday night.

As of Sunday night, the mother was still at the medical center but recovering. 

"They couldn’t get the fever to come down last night," the daughter said. "She’s sedated and on a ventilator. They're trying to give her body a chance to rest.”

There are now 17 residents who are currently hospitalized at either Carroll Hospital of Frederick Hospital, the President of Carroll Hospital Center, Leslie Simmons said.

There's currently a staff shortage at the facility, Singer said. Carroll Hospital has stepped up and helped the nursing home with staff support and equipment. 

"Some people may have mild symptoms or whatnot that are not reporting to work for reasons that are truly legitimately medical, but there are probably folks who are also afraid," Singer said.

Singer said the outbreak is 'relatively contained' to the facility, so the public should not feel alarmed.

They're also joining the Board of Commissioners and Maryland State Police in warning people to stay off the property.

“We’re asking everybody to calm down and realize that this is private property and that anybody trespassing on this property will be arrested for trespassing," said Lt. Rebecca Bosley with the Maryland State Police.

Wantz said he's noticed multiple people not following social distancing guidelines, and renewed his and the Governor's pleas to take this threat seriously.

"Look this is a novel virus, one with no cure, no vaccine, highly contagious…deadly," Wantz said. "Until everyone starts to pay attention and do what they're told, we're not going to get through this."

Gov. Larry Hogan reiterated at a news conference the increased vulnerability of older patients and those with preexisting conditions to the virus and urged everyone to continue staying at home when possible to stop the spread. 

RELATED: Staff and residents at 3 Montgomery County nursing homes test positive for coronavirus

Gov. Hogan also announced that the state's death toll had doubled, bringing the state total to 10 coronavirus deaths. The five individuals who passed away included:

  • a Prince George’s County resident in his 50s;
  • a Charles County resident in his 50s;
  • a Wicomico County resident in her 60s with underlying medical conditions;
  • a Baltimore City resident in her 60s with underlying medical conditions; 
  • a Baltimore City resident in her 80s with underlying medical conditions

"I want to thank all of the doctors, nurses, and first responders all across our state who are working around the clock to respond to this pandemic," Hogan said. "We are leveraging the full arsenal of public health and government, but defeating this invisible enemy will require a unity of effort and spirit like nothing we have ever faced." 

The state is currently reporting 1,239 positive cases of coronavirus, 10 deaths, and 226 hospitalizations. 

Following the announcement about the facility, Dr. John Korangy told WUSA that nursing homes face a special risk during the spread of a virus.

"These are patients that are there for a reason. They’re patients that probably have underlying medical problems," he said. "Whenever patients are next to each other, there’s a chance for cross-contamination and they have nurses that are going room to room.”

According to Korangy, the staff shortage at the nursing home only added to the concerns.

"A patient may get contaminated. They're not getting identified early enough and it can spread quickly," he said.

However, the doctor added that nursing homes continue to be the best option for senior citizens needing regular care.

"Those facilities are still better equipped to manage patients than their loved ones being at home as an example," he said. 

Three nursing homes in Montgomery County have reported positive cases of coronavirus, among residents and staff members, causing facilities across the region to enhance their infection control procedures. 

Three residents at Brighton Gardens in Bethesda, a staff member at the Fairland Center and a staff member at Fox Chase Rehab and Nursing, both in Silver Spring, all tested positive. The three residents were hospitalized, while the two staff members are self-quarantined. 

"We continue to urge everyone in the community to follow these practices to stay well and protect those most vulnerable: do not go out unless necessary, do not gather in groups of more than 10 people, maintain distance between you and others, stay home if you are sick and wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds," Montgomery County's Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles said. "We continue to provide guidance to nursing homes and long-term care facilities and have regular communication with them as they navigate the COVID-19 pandemic."

RELATED: Coronavirus live updates DMV: MD death toll doubles, over 2,000 cases across the DMV

WUSA9 found a 2019 health inspection report for Pleasant View Nursing Home, conducted by the Office of Health Care Quality.

One of the 26 citations dealt with the failure to provide and implement an infection prevention and control program, which the OHCQ classified as posing minimal harm or potential for actual harm. 

Specifically, the report states that the home failed to date label oxygen administration equipment for multiple residents and failed to label and store personal equipment in a hygienic manner in some residents' bathrooms.

The report also stated that in a bathroom shared by eight residents, there was an unlabeled blue basin with a urinal placed near other urinals, not evidently displaying which basin was assigned to which resident.

"The facility staff failed to ensure that personal care equipment was properly labeled and stored to minimize the risk of exposure to potentially harmful organisms," read the report.

WUSA 9 asked Health Officer Singer if any of these violations could be connected with the outbreak, and he said in an email response: "I doubt this would have anything to do with this outbreak. Some of the patients tested are asymptomatic, so it is quite possible that someone in the facility could have spread the virus and never had any symptoms. We really do not know."

RELATED: Nursing home outbreaks lay bare chronic industry problems

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