Maryland’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic has progressed to the point at which many of the state’s nursing homes will now be allowed to resume indoor visitation, Gov. Larry Hogan said Thursday.
The pandemic has had a devastating effect on the state’s nursing homes. Positivity rates at nursing homes have in general been significantly higher than that of the state’s average rate. Senior citizens are more likely to get seriously ill or die if they contract viruses because it is generally harder for them to fight off infections. Limited outdoor visitation at nursing homes has been permitted since mid-June.
“Today, effectively immediately, as a result of new federal and state guidelines and our advances in rapid testing-indoor visitation is now able to begin in all nursing homes that are not experiencing a current outbreak or that have not experienced any new positive cases in the last fourteen days,” Hogan said at a news conference at the State House in Annapolis.
Hogan added: “In accordance with new federal guidelines indoor visitation would not be permitted if a local jurisdiction’s positivity rate rises above 10%. This new federal policy and our new state efforts allow for more flexibility for compassionate care visits to support residents who need emotional and spiritual support.”
Hogan said the state is providing $6 million to test nursing home staff for the virus. The state previously provided $37 million for testing at nursing homes.
Hogan noted that fall is underway and that Marylanders should protect themselves from illness by getting a flu shot. The governor said the state is making preparations to gear up for a possible confluence of both the flu and the pandemic.
On schools, Hogan said that all 24 of the state’s jurisdictions are now in compliance with a mandate to submit plans for a return to in-person learning for a limited number of students. Right now most schools in Maryland are operating virtually.
At Thursday’s news conference, State Superintendent Karen Salmon said childcare centers can now expand their teacher to student ratios.
“I am announcing that childcare providers are now able to return to the full teacher to child ratios and capacities for which they are licensed. Today’s announcement means that childcare centers can now serve up to 20 three and four-year-olds in a room with a ratio of one teacher to 10 students and up to 30 school-age students with a ratio of one teacher to 15 students.”
Salmon said the state will provide an $800 one-time grant for family providers and a $1,600 one-time grant for center-based providers.
Maryland’s positivity rate is at 2.88%, which is better than that of most states in the country.
Thursday marked the first day since March 28 that the state did not report any new COVID deaths.