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Baltimore County secures protective equipment for struggling nursing homes, a ‘critical’ component for reopening

As Maryland nursing homes are bearing the brunt of the coronavirus outbreak, Baltimore County government announced Monday it would be providing personal protective equipment for state-regulated nursing homes in the county that struggling the most.

Baltimore County will disburse 60,000 surgical masks, 40,000 isolation gowns, and “a significant supply” of gloves, according to a news release.

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Sourced from multiple vendors, the equipment cost the county $225,000, county spokesman Sean Naron said.

The new county effort will supplement the existing avenues for long-term care facilities to acquire personal protective equipment from the Maryland Department of Health or from private companies.

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Thirty percent of Baltimore County’s 4,749 confirmed cases have been linked to assisted living facilities, according to the most recent state data available Monday, May 18.

Among nursing home staff members, 396 employees have tested positive and two have died, according to the state. More than half of the county’s 237 deaths have been nursing home residents; 155 residents have died as of May 18.

The supplies will be given upon request to long-term care facilities where county survey data indicates a need for the equipment; if a state “strike team” requests indicates equipment shortage; if Baltimore County emergency services teams notice a need when they respond to a facility to provide patient care; if the Baltimore County Department of Health determines a need exists that could best be addressed through a disbursement of county-purchased supplies.

Improved access to personal protective equipment is a major factor in loosening social distancing restrictions in Baltimore County, County Executive Johnny Olszewski, Jr. said in a statement Monday.

Olszewski opted to maintain countywide closures of malls and nonessential businesses after Gov. Larry Hogan lifted the statewide stay-at-home order last week and allowed certain businesses to reopen with some limitations.

“Adequate personal protective equipment for front-line personnel is a key factor in ensuring we are ready to safely reopen," Olszewski said in a statement. "This effort is [an] important step toward that goal.”

Interested long-term care facilities should contact LBSS@baltimorecountymd.gov for more information.

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