Updated:  The Kent County Health Department now reports 12 COVID-19 infections at the Autumn Lake Health Care facility. Three staff members have also tested positive.

One resident has died.

The one death initially was incorrectly attributed to Queen Annes County, according to a 2 p.m. press release from the Kent County Health Department.

Kent Health Officer William Webb said more positive tests were confirmed after this story first ran.

While the outbreak at the facility totals 15, not all may be officially attributed to Kent County because those who tested positive may not all legally reside here, Webb said.

Over the Weekend, a National Guard Unit and Maryland health officials descended on the 90-plus bed facility where 72 patients currently reside.

The infected patients were cordoned off and separated from other residents–and more testing at the facility is underway.

Maryland health officials confirmed 854 new cases in the state since yesterday and 30 new deaths. So far 516 Marylanders have succumbed to the virus. The 854 new cases is the second highest one day spike since the pandemic took hold in Maryland.

The latest surge comes as the Maryland House Republican Caucus on Saturday sent a letter to Gov. Larry Hogan asking him to start reopening the state’s economy, stating that the recent executive order requiring masks in retail outlets opens a window to ease the current restrictions.

“Your order requiring individuals to wear masks in public spaces provides an opportunity to allow small retail and service-based businesses, which have a limited amount of contact with the public, to reopen while operating in accordance with CDC best practices,” the letter said. “We believe this mask requirement gives them an opportunity to reopen provided, as with essential businesses, they have practices in place to maintain social-distancing, disinfect working areas, limit the number of customers at a time, and other best practices recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).”

“Many restaurants are looking at the possibility of permanent closure, and industry experts predicting a closure rate of 25-30% if dining rooms are not open by mid-May,” the letter said. “There are many restaurants in Maryland that have open air seating and could reopen utilizing those outside areas. This option would have to contain strict social distancing guideline, spacing indoor tables at least six feet apart, requires staff and servers to wear gloves and masks, and enhances sanitation measures among other CDC guidelines.”

“We know striking a balance between public and economic health is not an easy one,” the caucus wrote. “This is an unenviable position to be in as a leader, as some will critique your weighty decisions no matter what.”

The Kent Pilot will update this story later today.