Carroll County reached a grim milestone Wednesday when the 1,000th positive test for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, was reported in data released by the Carroll County Health Department.
To put that in perspective, that’s more people than live in the entire town of Union Bridge.
Percentage-wise, it means about six out of every 1,000 Carroll residents has come down with COVID-19, which is almost exactly the percentage of the United States as a whole. And, tragically, more than 10% of those who have thus far been diagnosed with the coronavirus have died.
Congregate living facilities, mainly nursing homes, have been hit especially hard, accounting for nearly 56% of the county’s cases with five new positive tests Wednesday pushing the facilities total to 559.
Of the 116 coronavirus deaths in Carroll County, 104 or 90% have been residents or staff members of congregate living facilities. As we note often, facilities that house multiple residents are particularly vulnerable to localized outbreaks — especially those that house the elderly and those with preexisting health conditions.
As Maryland is reopening and Carroll County cases overall seem to be slowing, it’s important to keep in mind the tragic toll the coronavirus has taken on these facilities and how vulnerable they are likely to be to a potential second wave.
As we return to restaurants and gyms, and some bemoan the coronavirus “hoax,” keep the following Carroll facilities, among others, who have been through a horrific, terror-filled last three months in your thoughts (statistics through Wednesday).
· At Pleasant View Nursing Home in Mount Airy, 86 residents and 46 staff members (19 Carroll countians) have contracted the disease and 29 have died.
· At Westminster Healthcare Center, 89 residents and 12 staff members (four Carroll countians) have contracted the disease and 17 have died.
· At Birch Manor Healthcare Center in Sykesville, 55 residents and five staff members (four Carroll countians) have contracted the disease and 14 have died.
· At Fairhaven in Sykesville, 47 residents and 29 staff members (eight Carroll countians) have contracted the disease and 15 have died.
· At Carroll Lutheran Village in Westminster, 44 residents, and 15 staff members (14 Carroll countians) have contracted the disease and 12 have died.
· At Longview Nursing home in Manchester, 41 residents and 24 staff members (17 Carroll countians) have contracted the disease and eight have died.
This, of course, isn’t just a local problem. There are more than 15,000 nursing homes in this country with roughly 70% classified as for-profit, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Nearly 1.5 million Americans live in nursing homes. They are almost without exception part of a group highly susceptible to contracting and dying from COVID-19 due to age and other preexisting conditions, not to mention the tight quarters in which many of them live. And then there are the staff members who care for them, but spend much of their time outside the facility.
More than 26,000 residents or staff members of nursing homes that were not adequately prepared to handle this pandemic have died of COVID-19. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, a U.S. Government Accountability Office report released in May found that “persistent lapses“ in infection control procedures as simple as hand washing have been widespread and nursing home owners have not been paying attention to the basic need to do so.
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While some measure of this tragedy was unavoidable, we hope nursing home operators everywhere have learned from their mistakes. It’s too late for more than 100 Carroll countians among more than 26,000 Americans, but not for so many of our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, mentors and veterans that are counting on nursing homes to protect them.