At least 57 of Baltimore County’s assisted living facilities have reported coronavirus outbreaks and they account for more than half of the county’s 58 coronavirus-related deaths, County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. said during a teleconference Wednesday.
With Baltimore County surpassing more than 2,000 coronavirus cases as of Wednesday, Olszewski said the long-term care facilities are his biggest concern amid the pandemic.
“There are many unlicensed facilities,” he added, “where we don’t know what’s going on.”
Coronavirus outbreaks have been confirmed at Spring Grove Hospital Center in Catonsville, a psychiatric care facility, where the Maryland Department of Health said a dozen cases have been reported, and at an assisted living facility in Parkville, where the 21234 ZIP code counts 169 confirmed cases, the second-highest concentration in the county.
Elyn Garrett-Jones, a spokeswoman for the Baltimore County Health Department, said the department was monitoring the nursing home outbreaks, but declined to say which county facilities where outbreaks were occurring.
“Along with the state health department, we are closely monitoring outbreaks” and assessing infection control practices at long-term care facilities, Garrett-Jones wrote in an email.
The county also is helping to provide personal protective equipment for nursing homes and is canvassing nursing registries to facilitate additional staff for facilities that may be experiencing staff shortages, she said.
Baltimore County is preparing to open a second drive-thru testing facility along the Liberty Road corridor that runs through Randallstown, where the county is seeing its highest concentration of coronavirus cases in the 21133 ZIP code and where black residents make up 81% of the population.
As of Wednesday, 173 residents have tested positive for coronavirus in the 21133 ZIP code.
Garrett-Jones would not say exactly where the testing site will be located on Liberty Road or when it will open.
Baltimore County opened its first drive-thru testing clinic last week at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium.
Black Marylanders have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus, according to the state health department. In Baltimore County, 846 black residents who have tested positive for coronavirus outnumber the confirmed cases of white, Hispanic and Asian residents combined, according to data from the Maryland Department of Health available on Baltimore County’s COVID-19 dashboard.
Noting the “disparities in traditionally underserved minority and vulnerable populations,” Olszewski said, “this is a chance for us to actually not only response to the COVID [pandemic], but think about some of the underlying issues.”