Governor also sets up strike team to provide medical help to nursing homes
Baltimore, Md (KM) Frederick County is one of 12 jurisdictions to be named a hot spot when it comes to the coronavirus. That announcement was made on Tuesday by Governor Larry Hogan during a news conference at the Baltimore Convention Center.
He says he was able to convince the Trump Administration to consider the Greater Washington and Baltimore Corridor as a priority when it comes battling COVID-19. The Governor says these counties will get urgent federal attention.
Other jurisdictions on the list are Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Carroll, Anne Arundel, Howard, Prince George’s, Charles, Calvert, Montgomery, Harford and Queen Anne’s. Counties.
“The Baltimore-Washington Corridor is also homes to the NIH, the FDA, Fort Detrick, critical health agencies which are on the front lines of the battle against the coronavirus,”: he said.
In other developments, the Governor also announced the formation of a strike team to provide medical and other assistance to nursing homes in Maryland. :”The state teams will provide assistance and care to patients immediately in order to slow the spread of this virus among our most vulnerable Marylanders,” he said.
During his news conference, Governor Hogan said Maryland now has cases and clusters of cases at 90 nursing homes. Two area facilities have had a number of cornavirus cases: Pleasant View Nursing Home in Mount Airy, and the HeartFields Assisted Living in Frederick, where 12 people were recently reported to have COVID-19, five residents seven staff. The facilities also reported two deaths, one resident and one staff member.
The Governor said the purpose of these strike teams, consisting of the National Guard and personnel from state and local health departments, is “to bring triage, emergency care, supplies and equipment to overburdened nursing homes,”: he says. “We’re the first state in the nation to launch such a coordinated response effort.”
Also on Tuesday, Governor Hogan says he signed an executive order to take action against businesses, organizations, establishments or construction sites which allow unsafe practices that increase the spread of the coronavirus. “Then that jurisdiction shall have the power to require that unsafe facilities to: A) immediately modify its operations; B) severely limit any movement to or from that facility; or C) they can shut them down altogether,” he says.
His executive order also empowers state and local law enforcement agencies to assist local health officers to enforce this order. “Failure to obey the order may be punishable by up to a year in jail, or up to a $5,000 fine or both,” Hogan said.
He also announced that Maryland will be receiving 200 ventilators from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Also at the news conference, Dr. Tom Inglesby, the Director of the Center for Health Security at the Bloomburg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, discussed the importance of continuing to practice social distancing, which is keeping at least six-feet away from another person, in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
He says it appears to be making a difference in Italy, which was hit hard by COVID-19. Dr. Inglesby also noted that there appears to be a flattening out of coronavirus cases in Maryland during the 24-hour period between Monday and Tuesday of this week. “We have seen lower numbers of new cases and lower numbers of hospitalization,” he says. “It’s only one day of data, but if confirmed over time, it would be a very good move in the right direction.”
A number of things need to take place before the state can lift the restrictions placed on its citizens to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. “We’ll need have expanded diagnostics to the point where even mildest COVID cases can be diagnosed on the same day, if possible,” he says. “We’re going to need to make sure our health care workers have all the masks and equipment that they need to take care of future potential surges of COVID should they occur.”
Along with that, Dr. Inglesby says, all health departments around Maryland need the personnel and technology to closely track all cases of coronavirus, and their close contacts.
By Kevin McManus