The death toll at a Richmond-area long-term-care facility reached 32 on Tuesday, with four more residents falling to covid-19, the disease caused by the virus — the largest known outbreak at a single site in the greater Washington area. In Maryland, at least 10 nursing homes in Montgomery County have reported cases of covid-19. The worst outbreak in the state has killed 14 and infected dozens of elderly people at Pleasant View Nursing Home in Carroll County.
Those incidents come as the disease continues to spread throughout the region. The District, Virginia and Maryland reported nearly 900 additional coronavirus cases Tuesday and 21 more fatalities, bringing the region’s total to 8,926, with 189 deaths.
Hogan (R) said the new strike teams — made up of National Guard, state and local health departments and hospital systems — would provide emergency care, supplies and equipment to assist overburdened nursing homes and extended-care facilities.
There are cases among staff and residents at 90 nursing homes and long-term facilities across the state, Hogan said. The number is up from Friday, when there were known cases at 60 Maryland facilities.
“The goal here is not to replace a nursing home’s medical team, but provide immediate support,” Hogan said.
He touted aggressive steps already taken to limit the spread of the virus in nursing homes, including banning visitor access and staff travel.
Montgomery County officials have already assembled “action teams” of county-employed nurses and trained them in infection-control measures, contact-tracing and other epidemiological skills, said Health Officer Travis Gayles.
The nurses have been dispatched to facilities where patients or staff have tested positive.
The county has supplied all nursing homes with about two to three weeks worth of personal protective equipment, said head of emergency management Earl Stoddard, but is unable to provide them long-term reserves of masks or gloves.
One of the region’s worst cases continues to be at Virginia’s Canterbury Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center in Henrico County outside Richmond. In all, 141 residents and staff have been infected at the 190-bed facility, and officials said some staff tests were still incomplete.
Canterbury serves patients recovering from injuries or illness, many of them elderly. The facility tested all of its residents last week. Thirty-five residents tested negative, while 35 who tested positive were not experiencing any symptoms. Canterbury has divided residents into separate units to avoid further spread.
In Loudoun County, a third resident at the Falcons Landing assisted-living community in Sterling died Tuesday morning of covid-19, the facility’s director said.
Barbara Brannon, director of the continuing care community that is home to about 550 military veterans, their spouses and other former federal workers, said a man in his late 80s to early 90s died of complications related to his coronavirus infection. Another male resident, who was about the same age, died earlier this week and a woman in her early 90s died last month, Brannon said.
Falcons Landing had 16 known cases of coronavirus infection as of midday Tuesday. Eleven of those people are residents and five are workers, Brannon said.
“It’s heartbreaking,” she said about the three fatalities. “You hope against all hope that they can rally. But, with a group like this, it is more difficult.”
District officials said there have been seven covid-19 cases in three long-term-care facilities.
United Medical Nursing Center, which is in United Medical Center in Southeast Washington, has had four positive cases, District officials said. Carroll Manor has had two cases and Unique Rehabilitation and Health Center has had one case.
Hogan said Tuesday that he expects Maryland’s overall surge in hospitalized coronavirus patients to arrive “soon,” but he thinks social distancing measures have reduced the administration’s worst-case scenarios so much that the state is unlikely to need the 15,000 body bags it requested from the federal government or to activate a proposal to lease ice rinks to use as morgues.
“We believe . . . that we have dramatically lowered the potential for that,” Hogan said, standing amid a 250-bed field hospital erected in the basement of the Baltimore Convention Center. The operation could expand to as many as 750 beds if necessary.
The governor issued a new executive order allowing local health departments to shut down any essential businesses that are violating social distancing guidelines, and empowered state and local police to help enforce it.
Hogan cautioned that the worst of the pandemic is yet to come. One of the hospital executives advising the governor told reporters that the next two weeks will dramatically stress medical workers. Thomas Inglesby, a Johns Hopkins epidemiologist, said some models predict a peak in as little as 10 days, though some would see that surge later in April.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D), who did not deliver a public briefing Tuesday, has said he expects the outbreak to reach its peak between late April and late May. D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D), who also held no news conference Tuesday, has adopted a more pessimistic outlook, projecting that the pandemic could keep climbing into early summer and infect about 1 in 7 District residents.
In an interview on MSNBC, Bowser said Tuesday that she is “fearful” the disease will take a disproportionate toll on African Americans. Her remarks came a day after the District released data showing that 13 of the city’s 22 coronavirus fatalities have been black residents, or about 59 percent. The city is 46 percent black.
“We know that underlying conditions, like hypertension and diabetes and heart disease, this virus is particularly hard on,” Bowser said in the interview. “And we know that African Americans are living with those underlying conditions every day.”
Virginia has not released data about race among its cases of coronavirus infection. Hogan said Tuesday that Maryland will begin providing a racial breakdown on its coronavirus cases, a day after 81 state delegates signed a letter requesting the data.
He and Inglesby said they were encouraged that the state’s overall number of hospitalizations and new case loads increased at a lower rate in the past day.
“It’s only one day of data, but if confirmed over time, it would be a very good move in the right direction,” Inglesby said.
The number of Maryland residents being hospitalized because of the coronavirus has been on the rise.
An average of 131 people each day were admitted to a hospital from Saturday to Monday, according to data obtained and analyzed by The Washington Post. That’s up from an average of 78 daily hospitalizations during the previous three days — an increase of 68 percent.
Hogan and Inglesby said deciding when to reopen society will depend on getting caseloads extremely low — low enough for every local health department to know and track each patient — and widespread testing that could give same-day results in even the mildest of possible cases.
In the meantime, the cost of responding to the crisis has skyrocketed. Hogan said the state has spent as much as $2 billion so far — roughly $700 million more than Maryland had set aside for worst-case catastrophes in its “rainy day” fund. The governor added that he’s focused on saving lives and “we’re not counting every dollar.”
The pandemic will cause “massive budget problems” for Maryland, Hogan said, the same way it has wreaked havoc on family finances across the state.
Virginia officials have said current efforts are costing hundreds of millions of dollars and estimated that the pandemic will cost at least $2 billion over the next two years. Northam is considering a freeze on new spending for anything not related to the coronavirus outbreak, his office said.
Democrats representing Virginia in Congress, including Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine, on Tuesday urged Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to give state and local governments maximum flexibility in how they use federal coronavirus relief money.
“Virginia is already facing large revenue shortfalls — with the expectation that revenue may be $1 billion lower than expected in the final quarter of this fiscal year alone,” the senators and Reps. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, Gerald E. Connolly, Don Beyer, A. Donald McEachin, Elaine Luria, Abigail Spanberger and Jennifer Wexton wrote.
Virginia’s state and local governments expect about $3.3 billion in federal aid, but the money is earmarked for coronavirus-related expenses. Loosening restrictions, the delegation said, “will allow governors and mayors to best address the crises they are facing.”
Virginia reported 455 new cases Tuesday and nine new deaths — both single-day highs.
Maryland reported 326 cases and a dozen fatalities. Prince George’s County is now the first Maryland jurisdiction with more than 1,000 known cases.
The District had 114 new infections and reported no new deaths.
Jenna Portnoy, Dana Hedgpeth, Perry Stein, Rebecca Tan, Laura Vozzella, Patricia Sullivan, Antonio Olivo and John D. Harden contributed to this report.