Most Local Virus Deaths at Calvert Nursing Home; Hogan Boosts Aid on Lower Shore as Harris Rallies to “Re-open” Biz in Virus Hot Spot; Cecil County Launches Small Biz “Recovery” Plan

May 1, 2020

As the COVID-19 virus continues to spread in Maryland, new—but flawed—data from the state Health Department shows that a majority of fatalities have occurred in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. But the state report fails to accurately depict the tally in Cecil County, where the state claims there was just 1 virus death at the Calvert Manor nursing home in Rising Sun but county health statistics show that 7 of the 8 total deaths in the county occurred at Calvert Manor.

It is one of the sad ironies of the current pandemic that Calvert Manor—for many years the top-rated nursing home in the county, according to Center for Medicare/Medicaid Services (CMS) reports, for its quality of care and infection control efforts—has become the center of the pandemic in Cecil County. Under orders from Gov. Larry Hogan, the state began just this week to publicly identify confirmed cases and deaths at nursing homes throughout Maryland. The state report listed 16 confirmed cases of the virus among staff at Calvert Manor, with no fatalities, plus 53 confirmed cases among residents, with 1 fatality.

But in response to questions from CECIL TIMES, county health officials said that the actual local tally was 70 total confirmed cases of the virus among staff and patients at Calvert, and that there were 7 fatalities among residents. Local health officials said they were ”working with the Maryland Department of Health to get it updated” on the state website.

In response to the statewide pandemic crisis in nursing homes, Governor Hogan announced this week that he would mandate testing for the virus of all nursing home residents in the state, along with new state supervision of such facilities and support services, including National Guard medical aid and a team of nurses and aides to help facilities experiencing staff shortages.

Statewide, as of Friday (5/1/2020) morning, there were a total of 23,472 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state (an increase of 1,730 cases in the past 24 hours) and 1,093 confirmed deaths (up by 51 deaths in the past 24 hours.) There were also 94 “probable” deaths linked to the virus but not positively confirmed by testing.

The first positive sign in many weeks was the first decline in new hospitalizations due to the virus, down from the previous day by 43 patients, to a total of 1,668 currently hospitalized patients. (1,100 were in “acute care” beds and 569 occupied Intensive Care Unit beds.

Meanwhile, confirmed cases of the virus rose significantly recently on the Eastern Shore—especially in Wicomico County in the Salisbury area on the Lower Shore, as CECIL TIMES reported on Tuesday 4/28/2020. [SEE previous CECIL TIMES report here: ] At that time, state Health Department officials conceded that there needed to be more testing on the Eastern Shore.

Subsequently, Governor Hogan announced on Wednesday (4/29/2020) that he was consulting with federal health agencies, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to bring in health experts and boost testing, especially among workers in the poultry industry. (In fact, Delaware media reports state that Delaware Gov. John Carney had solicited CDC help at least a week earlier to address virus spread in the Delmarva region related to poultry processing plant workers who frequently cross state lines to poultry facilities in Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.)

This weekend, a concerted virus testing effort, especially aimed at workers and family members tied to the poultry industry, will be conducted in Salisbury, with National Guard support for a new testing operation at the Perdue Stadium in Salisbury.

But as the state launches a new initiative to test for the virus in a nationally-recognized “hot spot” for infections, US Rep. Andy Harris (R-1) is scheduled to address a “Rally to Re-Open” motorcade event in Salisbury this weekend-to demand “re-opening” of business in the state, even as the virus rages on, especially on the Shore.

For the past week, Harris has been touring small business operations on the lower Shore, with some photos posted on social media in which he did not wear a facemask or practice “social distancing” from other people, as he criticized the Hogan administration’s plans for a measured business re-opening plan tied to health statistics and virus-reduction benchmarks.

Meanwhile, Cecil County Executive Alan McCarthy announced on Friday that he is developing a “Cecil Comeback Plan” to help revive the county’s business environment as the virus recedes and the state allows staged re-opening of business and social gathering activity.

The new plan follows earlier McCarthy initiatives to create a new small business grant program and a re-direction of previous economic development aid programs to a special loan program for small businesses affected by the virus. In addition, McCarthy previously re-ordered priorities of the county’s “VLT Grants” program—using money obtained from fees paid by the Hollywood casino in Perryville—to focus on non-profit groups working to help victims of the pandemic and its economic fallout.

McCarthy said the new “Cecil Comeback” plan would provide “a detailed roadmap to economic recovery that supports job retention and will protect small business” as well as providing tax relief to nurses, medical professionals and “frontline workers” who led the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

For small businesses, he said the county would create a program to help owners by waiving various fees and would also create a special restaurant and retail “relief fund.”

McCarthy said that the county program would step in to correct problems in federal aid programs by providing “gap financing to businesses in danger of closing.”

The new county plan also proposes legislation in Annapolis to “allow for property tax relief for the countless nurses, technicians, and other frontline workers who helped our county weather this crisis.”

In addition, the plan would build upon existing state legislation passed in 2017 to permit counties to provide property tax relief for public safety first-responders. McCarthy said he will submit legislation to the County Council to make that tax credit available in Cecil County.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Fine Maryland Wines
Proudly made in Cecil County