Kent Health Officer William Webb on Tuesday briefed the Kent Commissioners on COVID-19 outbreaks in the county and echoed previous statements that protective gear and testing equipment remain in short supply.

“We still continue to face a shortage of masks, gowns, face shields, and hand sanitizer,” Webb said. “Of these, [disposable] gowns are in the shortest supply.”

“Our commercial supply chain is still significantly delayed,” he said. “We have found that pricing levels are higher than at the start of the crisis” due to supply and demand.

He said facilities are “aggressively using conservation practices” for protective equipment “that would not have been encouraged before the crisis.” 

Healthcare workers continue to reuse masks and face shields, he said

Nursing Home Outbreaks

An outbreak at the Autumn Lake Healthcare facility that began on April 14 has reported 68 cases of COVID-19. The number of employees with the virus stands at 13 with no fatalities. But 17 of the 55 residents infected have died from the disease.

Webb said 42 of the 68 cases have been resolved, meaning the individuals have recovered from the disease.

“They are no longer symptomatic; they have tested positive and have gone 13 days without developing symptoms or they have overcome their symptoms,” Webb said.

Webb confirmed our earlier reporting on the Resorts at Chester River Manor, where 23 infections have resulted in five resident deaths. Currently, three staff members are infected. Webb said there were five tests awaiting results and none of the cases there have been resolved.

As of yesterday, Webb said the death toll for Kent County stands at 13, which is four more than what was reported for Autumn Lake alone.

Webb explained that the discrepancy arises based on the county of residency that is entered on the death certificate.

In some cases, a person may still hold a legal residence in another county at the time of their death — even if they’ve lived at a nursing facility here for a significant amount of time.

‘We’ve had individuals who’ve been long-time residents of a nursing home here for two and three years [and their death] is attributed to another county.

He said the decision to document deaths this way comes from the Maryland Vital Statistics Administration, “which local health officers have tried to change.”

Testing of Agricultural workers

Webb reported 13 cases of COVD-19 at an egg farm near Massey, an increase of eight since Webb’s last report to the Commissioners on April 28. He said all the cases there have been resolved.

Webb said the Kent and Cecil County health departments partnered on May 7 and 8 in a community testing event that tested 320 agricultural workers — and 10 came back positive for the virus. He said all 10 positive tests were attributed to Kent County.

More Statistics

Webb said the county has recorded 116 cases of COVID-19 with 13 deaths, but by the end his briefing the state website had reported another four infections.

The per capita infection rate in Kent is 505 per 100,000, which is on par with the state average.

“But if you look at our infection rate compared to other jurisdictions, we are the fourth-highest rate in the state,” he said. He said the county has administered 660 tests, a rate of 3.4 percent. 

“We are the second-highest tested population per capita,” he said.

Reopening the state

Webb said he expected reopening the state will be incremental and take place regionally. 

“There will be significant variability between jurisdictions,” he said. 

He said the decision by Gov. Larry Hogan to reopen the state will depend on the number of new cases and the rate of hospitalizations.

Feature image credit: Myra Lim via Flickr Creative Commons