Two residents of a Mount Airy nursing home have tested positive for the novel coronavirus and more than 60 other residents are awaiting test results, according to a county health department news release.
The residents with COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, are women in their 50s at Pleasant View Nursing Home, in Carroll County, the Friday night release reads. They have been hospitalized.
All residents and staff with symptoms have been tested and the staff with symptoms are isolating at home, according to Maggie Kunz, spokesperson for Carroll County Health Department. Residents with symptoms are being isolated at the nursing home, Kunz said.
There have been 14 cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Carroll County, including these cases, Kunz said the evening of March 27.
Nursing homes are considered high-risk locations for the coronavirus, which is generally more dangerous for older adults and people with existing health problems. In Washington state, where as of Friday night 175 people had died from the coronavirus, at least 37 of those deaths have been linked to one nursing home, according to the Associated Press.
Rebecca Travels, administrator of the nursing home, said one woman was tested last week at Carroll Hospital and one was tested a few days ago at the nursing home, likely Wednesday when they gained the ability to collect samples themselves.
Pleasant View Nursing Home has been in operation for about 46 years, Travels said. It is a long-term care facility that offers acute rehab services; occupational, physical and speech therapy; mental health services; comprehensive medical management; daily support for activities; and more.
Travels said the two women who tested positive had underlying health conditions. To her knowledge, they did not have any known contact with someone who has COVID-19.
“Residents in long-term care facilities, generally, by definition have underlying health conditions,” she said.
With this in mind, Travels said staff has done everything they can to prevent the spread of the disease.
“I really truly believe that the facility did everything that it possibly could to prevent this from happening,” Travels said. “We will continue to work tirelessly, day and night, for as long as we need to in order to prevent further spread and to take really good care of the residents that we have here.”
She said they did this by “immediately” following Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) guidelines and Gov. Larry Hogan’s executive orders. CMS licenses most nursing homes across the country, Travels said.
They’ve followed the governor’s restrictions to limit visitors so family can only visit during “end of life” situations, she said, and they’ve ceased communal dining and other group activities as the orders were issued.
Staff at Pleasant View have been checking residents for symptoms regularly and, when they were found, first performed tests for other illnesses, such as the flu, to rule them out according to Travels, in accordance with CMS guidelines.
Travels felt they had decent supplies to handle the situation and were assisted by the Carroll County Health Department. Staffers have used disinfectant and personal protective equipment such as gowns and masks. The staff has often reminded residents to stay six feet apart and to practice proper hygiene, she said.
“We are a very compassionate company,” Travels said. “We are family owned and operated. These residents are our family.”
Ed Singer, county health officer, and Deanna Najera, physician assistant-certified, a clinical consultant to the health department, visited the facility March 27 to observe infection control measures put in place to mitigate the spread of infection between staff and patients, the release states.
“Pleasant View Nursing Home is cooperating with and following the guidance of the Maryland Department of Health and the Carroll County Health Department,” Singer said in the release. “Their staff is working diligently and putting patients first. They have been open and transparent with their residents and families and are doing a great job taking care of their patients during this challenging time.”
The nursing home provided the health department with documentation detailing “extensive” actions taken to prevent the spread of infection starting March 10, following guidance from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid and Hogan’s executive orders, according to the release.
“Actions included extra cleaning, restricted visitation policies, restricted communal dining, suspended group activities, and daily checks of staff and residents for symptoms and follow up actions to isolate anyone who was ill. They also implemented activities to keep residents engaged while remaining in their rooms and offered video chats to help residents stay connected with their families,” the release reads.
The facility has 104 beds, according to the Maryland Health Care Commission.
“In my opinion, they’ve probably done everything they should have done,” Singer said in an interview. “I think the nursing home did everything they could.”
In the release, Singer encouraged Maryland Responds volunteers to provide additional support.
“In situations like this, Maryland Responds volunteers can help provide additional support and care. Individuals with medical training who want to volunteer can sign up at https://mdr.health.maryland.gov/Pages/Home.aspx; there are also roles for non-medical volunteers,” Singer said.
Eleven of the Carroll countians who have contracted COVID-19 are women, Kunz said. Three of the cases were found in men.
The first three people found to have COVID-19 in the county are now considered to be recovered, based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, Kunz said, leaving Carroll with 11 active cases.
The first three patients were a man in his 40s, a woman in her 30s and a man in his 20s. The first confirmed case in Carroll was announced March 13.
While older people have been identified as a group that is vulnerable to the disease, most of the cases in Carroll County have been found in younger people.
Of the cases confirmed in Carroll — counting those now considered to be recovered — five people are in their 20s, one is in their 30s, four are in their 40s, two are in their 50s and one is in their 60s, according to Kunz; one person’s age has not been made available yet.
“There have been some serious illnesses in younger people across the state,” Kunz said. “Probably people in older age groups are taking more precautions.”
Of the 774 cases the state has confirmed, 568 were people younger than age 60, according to the state.
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According to the CDC guidelines, a person with COVID-19 directed to self-isolate at home may stop home isolation under the following conditions:
- At least three days (72 hours) have passed since recovery defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath).
- At least seven days have passed since symptoms first appeared.
Kunz predicts the numbers will rise as testing capability increases.
“We have been able to test more, and people are more aware,” Kunz said. "We’re probably catching more cases that aren’t as serious.”
For at least two weeks now, the goal of Carroll County Health Department has been to slow the spread — not stop it — because stopping it is not a viable option at this stage, Kunz said.
By slowing the spread, health care providers will gain time to prepare, she said.
Anyone feeling ill should contact their health care professional. Carroll County Health Department is operating a COVID-19 hotline, available 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week, at 410-876-4848. After hours, callers may leave a message or call 211. All emergencies should continue to call 911.