State assessment team battles COVID-19 at nursing home

A Maryland assessment team arrives at the Cumberland Healthcare Center to help battle COVID-19 on Friday, April 17, 2020. (Photo by CTN - John Smith)

CUMBERLAND — One week after state officials were called for help, the number of COVID-19 cases at a local nursing home had grown five times larger.

James Pyles, director of the Allegany County Department of Emergency Services, called state officials on April 16 and asked for an assessment team to visit the Cumberland Healthcare Center.

At that time, 14 people at CHC had tested positive for the virus.

CHC is a skilled nursing facility that offers long-term rehabilitation and care for senior citizens, has roughly 110 residents and 130 employees.

Pyles made the call because several residents at a nursing home in Carroll County had died from the novel coronavirus.

“I didn’t want that to happen in Allegany County,” Pyles said at that time.

The assessment team arrived April 17, inspected the facility and recommended more testing for COVID-19.

On Thursday, Fred Stratmann, spokesman and attorney for CommuniCare Family of Companies, confirmed that CHC staff used its own COVID-19 tests on all residents at the facility.

“We bought 3,000 test kits and have divided them among our divisions,” Stratmann said via email.

However, not all staff members were tested.

CHC employees that have COVID-19 symptoms are told to avoid the building for two weeks, he said.

Asymptomatic staff members wear “full (Personal Protection Equipment) at work,” Stratmann said.

The Allegany County Health Department on Thursday reported an additional 13 people at CHC had tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of confirmed cases at the center to more than 70.

The Maryland Health Department reported 962 new cases of COVID-19 in 24 hours, bringing the state total to 15,737.

Also on Thursday, Pyles said during a radio show interview that an emergency management services provider had tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday.

That person does not work in Allegany County, Pyles later told the Cumberland Times-News, and said he couldn’t provide additional details because of privacy laws.

Teresa McMinn is the digital editor at Cumberland Times-News. Email her at tmcminn@times-news.com, call/text her at 304-639-2371 and follow her on Twitter.

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