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Universal testing for nursing home residents, staff set to get underway this week

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Posted at 1:49 PM, May 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-05 10:29:44-04

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — This week, universal COVID-19 testing will begin at all Maryland nursing homes.

On April 29, Governor Larry Hogan signed an Executive Order to control and prevent outbreaks of COVID-19 in nursing home facilities.

The order includes several new requirements aimed at protecting residents and staff at each location.

Hogan appointed the State Surgeon of the Maryland National Guard, Colonel Eric Allely as a Special Safety and Compliance Officer.

Allely will lead effort to implement universal testing of all residents and staff at all Maryland nursing homes, regardless of their symptoms.

Each facility is being surveyed to assess their needs.

Nursing homes will be prioritized based on an imminent outbreak or a current rising threat risk.

Some nursing homes are short staffed due to workers having to isolate if they test positive. In response, the state created a the “bridge team,” which will be used to supplement for the care of residents and staffing needs at nursing homes. Facilities needing help, will have to register with the Chesapeake Regional Information System.

All facilities are now also required to notify resident's family and staff within 12 hours of an outbreak, and provide weekly updates. The Maryland State Department of Health defines an outbreak as one or more confirmed cases of COVID-19 in a resident or staff member.

The locations required to report include nursing homes, assisted living facilities, state and local facilities, and group homes with 10 or more occupants.

Currently there are 1,489 confirmed cases including eight deaths among staff at Maryland nursing home facilities. Meanwhile, 3,218 residents have tested positive including 525 deaths.