Nursing and rest homes hit hard by coronavirus; one Maryland home reports 66 cases

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 147 nursing homes in 27 states had patients with COVID-19, and the problem has only worsened since.
Image: A healthcare worker attends to Susan Hailey, who tested positive for coronavirus, at the Life Care Center of Kirkland in Washington state on March 13, 2020.
A healthcare worker attends to Susan Hailey, who tested positive for coronavirus, at the Life Care Center of Kirkland in Washington state on March 13, 2020.David Ryder / Reuters file

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By Elisha Fieldstadt

More than five dozen residents of Pleasant View Nursing Home in Mount Airy, Maryland, have tested positive for coronavirus, according to health officials there.

Eleven of the residents are hospitalized. One resident with the virus, a man who was in his 90s and had underlying health conditions, died Saturday night, Carroll County Health Officer Ed Singer said during a news conference Sunday.

Singer said the facility, with 104 beds, reported two positive cases on March 27. The next day, the case count had risen to 66.

"Pleasant View Mt. Airy had previously implemented multiple prevention measures according to state and federal guidance," but the virus spread rapidly regardless, according to the Carroll County Health Department.

Nursing and rest homes across the country, which house some of those most vulnerable to suffer severe COVID-19 complications, are becoming hot spots for the virus. Many of the facilities are on lockdown, allowing only staff and residents inside, to try to slow the spread, leaving loved ones to worry from afar.

A nursing home in Kirkland, Washington, was the site of the first major U.S. coronavirus cluster, and since then nursing homes, assisted care facilities and other places that house the elderly and sick have faced similar outbreaks.

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 147 nursing homes in 27 states had patients with COVID-19, and the problem has only worsened since. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the virus spreading "like fire through dry grass" in such facilities.

"I don't think it's extremely unusual to see something like this, when it's unknown, to spread through a nursing home in this way," Singer said of the Maryland outbreak. He added that Pleasant View Nursing Home was continuing to comply with infection control guidance, and all staff was wearing personal protective equipment since some of the residents who tested positive were asymptomatic.

And "multiple state agencies are on the scene and working closely with the local health department and the facility as they take urgent steps to protect additional residents and staff who may have been exposed," Gov. Larry Hogan said.

Visitors were not allowed inside the home, but residents' nursing home staff was keeping families updated constantly, Singer said.

He assured Carroll County that "this is a relatively contained outbreak within a facility."

"It’s not something that the community should be overly alarmed about, and we’re doing everything we can to address it," Singer said. A total of 83 people have tested positive in the county, according to the health department.

In Woodbridge, New Jersey, a nursing home relocated all of its residents last week after two dozen were confirmed infected and the rest were presumed to be.

In Louisiana, at least 11 nursing homes, largely in the New Orleans area, have reported cases. At least 13 people have died at a single nursing home in the city.

The Tennessee governor's office said a nursing home there had about 60 residents and 33 workers confirmed positive.

Meanwhile, in Northampton County, North Carolina, the majority of Pine Forest Rest Home residents and some of the home's staff have tested positive for coronavirus.

Twenty-four of Northampton County's 26 cases are linked to the home, according to the county's health department. Pine Forest has 24 beds.

"All positive cases remain in isolation and are doing well," said a statement from the department. The first case at the home was reported on March 22.

The health department did not identify the nursing home, but NBC affiliate WRAL and The Raleigh News & Observer both confirmed the facility affected is Pine Forest.

The nursing home hasn't allowed visitors since March 10, but Pastor Matthew Dupuy of Galatia Baptist Church told WRAL that his congregation has been delivering food and offering other assistance they can provide without going inside.

"They were really short-staffed because of people having to stay home because of the virus," Dupuy said. "It's been a long few weeks for them."

Associated Press contributed.