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Health department investigates second bout of sickness at Turf Valley banquet facility

A second bout of sickness is reported at Turf Valley.

For the second time since late February, the Howard County Health Department is investigating Turf Valley's banquet facility after receiving reports of sickness.

A dozen people reported illness between March 2 and 6, according to Lisa de Hernandez, a spokeswoman for the county's health department. Turf Valley reopened its banquet facility yesterday with permission of the health department, de Hernandez said.

"Although we have been given clearance to reopen by health officials, we have selectively rescheduled several events this weekend based on individual circumstances," wrote Peter Mangione, Turf Valley's General Manager.

The reports come at the heels of a pending investigation in late February when the department received at least 23 reports of sickness from guests who said they had flu-like symptoms between Feb. 18 and 21.

"The health department has advised Turf Valley on many different cleaning and remediation issues. Turf Valley has gone above and beyond to take care and heed our recommendations," Hernandez said.

The recent outbreak of sickness prompted the Arc of Howard County to cancel its 19th annual Chocolate Ball, scheduled for Saturday. On Thursday afternoon, the organization canceled the event after discussions with Turf Valley management, said Cindy Parr, the Arc's executive director.

Parr said the decision was a precautionary measure to protect the event's 450 attendees, who include people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and compromised immune systems.

The organization has not determined when the event, which was scheduled one year in advance, will take place. The Arc is working to ensure all attendees and sponsors are aware of the cancellation, Parr said.

Turf Valley officials understood the organization's decision, she said.

The health department has not determined the source of the first problem and is waiting on results from stool samples sent to the Maryland Department of Mental Health and Hygiene in late February, said de Hernandez.

The root of the problem is likely a virus, she said.

After a bout of sickness in late February, Turf Valley's banquet facility closed on Feb. 22 and opened on March 1, according to a statement by Turf Valley.

"Moving forward, we believe that Turf Valley has done everything they can to make their premises one that is compliant with all of the health department requirements," de Hernandez said.

"No business wants something like this to happen," Hernandez said. "They are really concerned as we are concerned because public safety is our business."

To report instances of sickness, call the county's health department at 410-313-1772.

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