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Sixth Mount Airy nursing home resident dies of coronavirus as more staffers test positive, Carroll County officials say

Carroll County officials on Friday acknowledged a sixth resident from Pleasant View Nursing Home in Mount Airy had died, and said six additional staff members had tested positive for the coronavirus, bringing the total to 24.

The sixth resident to die was a man in his 80s with underlying conditions, county officials said. A total of 77 residents have been confirmed to have the virus.

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The county also announced Friday that Carroll Lutheran Village, a retirement community in Westminster, now has a total of seven residents and two staff members who have tested positive for the coronavirus, also known as the COVID-19 disease it causes. The resident is a woman in her 80s, and the staff member is a woman in her 60s.

“The Health Department and the Maryland Department of Health continue to work closely with Carroll Lutheran Village to discuss infection control, conservation of personal protective equipment, disinfection and cleaning, patient care and isolation, and communications,” county officials said in a news release. “Carroll Lutheran Village continues to monitor all residents and team members and require anyone exhibiting symptoms to self-isolate and seek medical care if needed.”

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Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and other state officials on Friday said they have identified coronavirus cases or clusters of cases in 60 different nursing home facilities and multiple correctional facilities across the state.

Although older populations can be particularly vulnerable to the virus, state officials warned again Friday that it does not only affect the old or vulnerable, and has been found in people of all ages and backgrounds as it continues to sweep across Maryland, the nation and the world.

As of Friday, there were 416 coronavirus patients hospitalized in the state, with 43% — nearly 180 people — in intensive care, Hogan said.

“We now have widespread, community transmission," he said. “This virus is everywhere and it is a threat to nearly everyone.”

To control the spread and protect residents in the hobbled economy, Hogan also expanded housing protections to homeowners and commercial and industrial renters, issuing an executive order that bars banks and other lenders from initiating foreclosure proceedings against mortgage holders, and preventing landlords from evicting commercial and industrial renters. Hogan had previously halted evictions of residential renters.

The Republican governor also put a halt during the current state of emergency on the repossession of cars and motor homes. And he said 70 banks, mortgage lenders and other financial lenders in the state have agreed to provide additional flexibility to those in debt.

As of Friday evening, Carroll County officials have confirmed a total of 136 people have tested positive. Six have died — all of them Pleasant View residents.

County officials also announced four community members have tested positive: a man in his 20s, a woman in her 40s, a man in his 50s and a woman in her 50s.

The governor made his comments in Annapolis on Friday afternoon, after officials reported an 18% jump in the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the state from the day prior, to 2,758. There have been 42 deaths in Maryland.

“I wish that I could tell you when we’re going to turn the corner," Hogan said. "We simply don’t know just how bad things are going to get, or exactly how long this is going to last.”

Frances Phillips, the state’s deputy secretary for public health services, said nursing homes have been hit hard. “We have outbreaks across the state now,” she said. She noted the cluster of more than 90 cases among residents and staff at the Pleasant View Nursing Home, but said multiple other homes have clusters of seven to 10 cases.

Phillips said there is “clear evidence” now that asymptomatic staff are helping the spread. She said the state is now ordering “universal masking” among staff, meaning all workers within nursing homes must wear masks.

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The acute respiratory disease caused by the virus has now affected more than a million people globally. The pandemic has forced strict control measures, including a stay-at-home order that Hogan instituted in Maryland.

Hogan has said the spread of the virus, which is overwhelming health care facilities, including in the New York area, is only going to get worse in Maryland before it gets better.

Phillips said state officials have looked at models for the trajectory of the virus in the state, and that the governor is leaning on experts to interpret those models. She said each model is only as good as the “assumptions that are built into them."

”Clearly what the governor has said is that we are on the beginning of a curve," she said.

Phillips repeatedly called the coronavirus a “sneaky virus,” about which new information is constantly emerging. She said healthcare workers must wear high-quality masks. Information about whether members of the general public should wear “cloth masks” is evolving, she said, but such masks would be beneficial if worn by people with symptoms, to not spread the virus to others around them.

Everyone should be careful, because the virus is affecting both young and old residents, she said.

“It’s important that we smother these nursing homes with infection control,” she said, “but do not think that virus is only in nursing homes."

”This virus is here and it’s in our communities."

Phillips said the most important thing state officials are doing right now is procuring ventilators — looking everywhere they can to increase capacity at state hospitals, including on the open market and in medical schools and other facilities across Maryland. “Believe we are scouring this state for all of the available ventilators that we can put into use,” she said.

Anyone who thinks they or a family member might be showing coronavirus symptoms can call the Carroll County Health Department’s COVID-19 hotline, which is available 8 a.m. through 5 p.m. seven days a week at 410-876-4848, or contact their doctor. After hours, callers may leave a message or call 211. People with emergencies should continue to call 911.

Updates on the number of Maryland cases and other important information can be found on the health department’s COVID-19 webpage at cchd.maryland.gov/covid-19/.

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