Updated, Wednesday, May 20, 11:14 p.m.

The Autumn Lake facility in Chestertown was sold on May 13 to Peak Healthcare of Charlotte, NC, said an official with the facility. The Autumn Lakes in Pocomoke City and Denton were also sold.

The Chestertown facility had 72 residents at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and as of Wednesday, May 20, has reported 60 resident cases resulting in 17 deaths.

There are also 13 documented cases among the staff there, and many were mandated to continue working before the “return to work criteria” from the CDC had been met — due to severe staff shortages. But CDC guidelines also allow infected workers to continue working under a crisis capacity strategy during severe staff shortages.

“We’ve been working very closely with Autumn Lake [Chestertown] the whole time,” said Kent County Health Officer Bill Webb in a brief phone interview. “We pointed them to the CDC guidance that says it’s permitted for [COVID-19] positive workers to continue working provided certain steps are taken. It’s the solution of last resort when you have absolutely nothing left to throw at the situation.”

Webb said the optics on this may look “horrendous” for both Autumn Lake and the health department.

“But remember it has been a crisis situation and Autumn Lake has followed the existing CDC guidance,” he said. “Nobody else stepped into the breach for this.”

Webb said most of the infected workers were not in direct contact with the residents, except for one nursing assistant “who was sent home immediately” upon learning the individual was positive.

“It involved non-direct contact with residents,” he said. “It involved dietary workers,  laundry workers and an HR clerk.”

The current infection rate at the facility is 83 percent and the death rate approaches 30 percent, among the highest rates in the state.

Related stories:

Kent Has 4th Highest COVID-19 Infection Rate in MD, Supply Shortages Continue to Challenge Caregivers, Health Officer Says

Nursing Homes Source of Most COVID-19 Infections in Kent

New COVID-19 Cases in Kent Point to Autumn Lake Facility

Autumn Lake Health Care in Chestertown Confirms 12 COVID-19 Infections with 1 death, MD GOP Asks Hogan to Start Reopening Economy